Study Guide

Henry VI Part 3 What's Up With the Ending?

By William Shakespeare

What's Up With the Ending?

Look out, folks, because we're gonna spoil the English crown off this baby.

The end of Henry VI, Part 3 is a major bummer. Pretty much everyone who's anyone dies or gets shipped off to prison—except for those on Edward's side. Margaret even begs to die because she just watched her son get it, but Edward stops his brothers from going through with it. Henry dies but leaves us with a creepy, not-so-subtle prophesy about what will happen next. It's no wonder Richard wants that guy dead.

Shakespeare leaves little clues for us to suggest that there's even more death and suffering to come for England in the next and final play of the tetralogy. We get some prophecies, sure, but we also hear it straight from Richard's mouth that he's planning a massive takedown of anyone who stands between him and the crown.

Unlike Shakespeare's tragedies, where order is eventually—sometimes only in the final words—restored, this play leaves us hanging. It's true that Edward takes the crown and delivers a little speech about nothing but happy days for England from now on. But in reality, we know that's not going to happen. Shakespeare leaves us with an eerie, expectant feeling at the end, because we know there is more to come. Dun. Dun. Dun.

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