Join us as we explore the genius of Shakespeare-the soliloquies he invented, his soaring language, his understanding of human nature, his plotting, and why his plays still resonate today. This semester we focus on a trio of King Henry plays. In Henry IV, Part 2, we see how lonely the life of a king can be. King Henry IV wrestles with the responsibilities and burdens of kingship as he fights foreign and domestic enemies to hold his throne. The one bright spot is his son Hal. Henry V tells Hal's story as he inherits the throne. Henry V is widely considered to be England's greatest king. He wins battles with magnificent speeches that have passed into history, defeats enemies, and awkwardly courts the French princess. With Elizabeth deceased and James I on the throne, Shakespeare walked a very careful line when he wrote Henry VIII. We see Henry placed in a variety of situations and watch him learn and grow from each. Shakespeare uses the play to celebrate the establishment of Protestantism and makes Henry VIII a symbol of England's greatness. To set the stage, we will open our study with a report on Queen Elizabeth I and the conditions in England in the 1500-1600s.
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