Study Guide

Henry VI Part 3 Family

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You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family. Too bad no one in Henry VI, Part 3 ever heard that: they're turning on their family left and right in this play. The Brady Bunch it ain't—after all, we're talking about a family whose members were at each other's throats for a good 30 years as they bickered over who should sit on the throne.

These people take domestic backstabbing, treachery, and murder to a whole new level: heads are lopped off left and right; Margaret waves York's son's blood in his face; George joins the army fighting against his brother; and Richard plans to destroy his brothers and baby nephew to get to the crown. Very few characters in this play are innocent, but—sigh—most of them are family.

Questions About Family

  1. Why does Shakespeare remind us that these characters are family when they're at each other's throats? Does this make their actions worse?
  2. How is family a motivator for action? Who uses family as a reason to kill, lie, or fight?
  3. What role do brothers play in Henry VI, Part 3? How about fathers and mothers?
  4. How do politics and domestic matters intersect in the play? Can family ever be separated from the political issues the play raises?

Chew on This

Family matters are inextricable from political affairs in Henry VI, Part 3.

The ties between parents and children are much stronger than those between brothers in the play.

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