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CliffsNotes Shakespeare's Histories
Finally! Summaries and Commentaries for All of Shakespeare's histories are available in one easy-to-access volume. Henry VI, Part 1 details the hasty settlement of a dispute and a grave error in judgment that start a fledgling king on a downward spiral. Henry VI, Part 2 describes a second weakness--the king's retreat into religion to avoid difficult decisions concerning policy. The result is the initiation of the Wars of the Roses. Henry VI, Part 3 is a bitter harvest of a king's poor political husbandry. Richard III presents a full-length portrait of a self-confessed egotistically ambitious, physically deformed king who vows to outdo Italy's wicked Machiavelli in order to win the crown of England. King John characterizes the disruption that results from a shallow, unethical monarchy. Richard II chronicles the fall from grandeur of the handsomest king of his time, fawned on by greedy, sycophantic courtiers and deposed by one of his noblemen whom he banishes unfairly and whimsically. Henry IV, Part 1 pivots merrily around the heir to Henry IV--his son, the lusty Prince Hal, who prefers the company of his bawdy tavern friends to his stuffy, conservative, politic-playing peers at court. Henry IV, Part 2 continues the saga of Prince Hal, who doffs his irresponsible attitudes, assumes the throne after the death of his father, and thereby sustains the country's measure of majesty. Henry V completes the portrait of Prince Hal, now Henry V, questing after the French crown and delivering one of the crown jewels of Shakespearean soliloquies--the St. Crispin's Day speech to the troops. Henry VIII pays tribute to the Tudor kings, whose might culminates in the linchpin of the dynasty--Henry's daughter: Elizabeth I.
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