Let's face it: in Henry VI, Part 2, the big King H doesn't really care about too many things. When his country needs a regent in France, he openly admits he's out of his league. When Margaret and Suffolk try to convince him to bump Gloucester out of his Protector position, he doesn't seem to have an opinion.
But what Henry does care about is religion. There are a couple of reasons for this. First and foremost, Henry is a pretty decent guy. He cares about doing the right thing, and he looks to religion for guidance. Henry thinks that God has a plan and that God is in charge of deciding what's right and what's wrong, as well as what's just and what's unjust.
This creates some problems. Henry is hesitant to make decisions on his own because he doesn't know exactly what God's plan is. Henry has a hard time functioning in his own political world because he is not as treacherous, manipulative, and unjust as most of the people surrounding him. Margaret, Suffolk, and Beaufort respect no rules; how is Henry supposed to compete with them if his primary goal is to be a good person? No wonder he doesn't really want to be king.
At the same time, we can't just say that Henry is good and Margaret, Suffolk, and Beaufort are bad. Henry may want to be a good person, but his faith is totally naive. He believes the story about the blind man, for example, even though Gloucester proves that the whole thing was a scam. Henry may be a decent guy, but he's almost totally passive, leaving everything in God's (or his nobles') hands. How would things be different if he stood up for himself and his beliefs for once?
Questions About Religion
- Why is religion so important to Henry? What does it offer him that his nobles do not?
- When does Henry use his religion to make decisions? Is he more likely to turn to God in a good or a bad moment? Why?
- How do other characters talk about Henry's beliefs? Why is his religion an issue with his wife?
Chew on This
Henry uses his religion as an escape from the real world. He never has to make a decision if he thinks God is in charge of everything.
Margaret thinks Henry's religion is pointless.