Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Politics

By William Shakespeare

Politics

Oh, politics. They're all over the place in Henry VI, Part 1. It is a play about kingship, after all—and boy, is kingship complicated. A few things to notice: (1) Lots of people have long-running grudges going, like Gloucester and Winchester or Somerset and York; (2) there are some genuine questions about whether Henry VI's family really should have gotten the crown; (3) Henry VI tries to skip a lot of the politics—his go-to tactic is just asking people to play nice. But this is all just the tip of the iceberg; politics are the name of the game in this play.

Questions About Politics

  1. Why is Henry VI not so interested in politics? Personality? Age? Something else?
  2. If Henry's family did get the throne illegitimately, then who should have it now?
  3. Is there less political infighting on the battlefield where the English see the threat of the French more vividly?
  4. Does being a king require the nasty side of politics, or is there a way to be a good king just by being a good person?

Chew on This

Henry is more interested in being a good person than being a good king.

It is clear in Gloucester that it is possible to be a good person and a good leader.

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