Study Guide

Warwick in Henry VI Part 3

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Warwick fights long and hard for York and Edward... right up until Edward takes a wife, that is. But before you go wondering why Warwick switches sides on us, think about this: he's given his whole life to fighting for York's claim to the throne. He believes this claim as much as York himself does. Then he's sent to France to help his new leader Edward out. They've made a deal, right?

Yeah, well, he totally gets played. And he knows it.

As Shakespeare would say, therein lies the rub. Warwick is an honorable guy, and he can't stand it when someone goes back on his word. Sure, this whole thing in France makes him look like a fool in front of King Lewis, but he's not interested in that. Check out what he says when he finds out that Edward has ditched Lady Bona for Lady Grey: "Edward's— / No more my king, for he dishonors me, / But most himself, if he could see his shame" (3.3.192-194).

That's right: Warwick thinks that Edward has shamed himself by doing this.

Warwick might go from one camp to the other, but he does it for noble reasons. He really wants a king he can respect. Now there's an idea. The truth is that Edward is no longer that guy for him. On top of that, Edward's proven that he doesn't care about loyalty, and he doesn't care about honor. Warwick sees that Edward's just been using him, and he sees Edward is pretty much only interested in himself.

Philosopher's Findings

Once Warwick supports Henry, he teams up with Margaret in battle. Unfortunately, it doesn't go so smoothly: he ends up dying, and as he's about to croak, he wonders, "For who lived king, but I could dig his grave?" (5.2.22). He pulls a Hamlet in the final few moments of his life by digging deep and sharing his innermost thoughts. Let's just say that they ain't pretty.

Warwick shares that he's done nothing with his life but make other people kings, and look where it all got him. He's down in the dumps about the fact that he owns a bunch of land, and none of it matters. Essentially, his whole message is that nothing matters anymore. All that he got for all that work is an untimely death on the battlefield.

In his final moments, Warwick seems to come to terms with the fact that while he thought York's claim to the throne was something noble, it was really just a power grab—just like Margaret's attempts to keep the throne and, later, to get it back. In the end, Warwick's honor, loyalty, and ideals don't seem to matter, because the whole thing is just an ugly family feud.

Was it all worth it in the end? Did all that fighting and bloodshed matter? Does it even really matter who's king? That one, Shmoopsters, we'll leave to you.

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