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King Henry VI, Part 1

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Next: Henry VI Part 1, List of Characters


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In the Spotlight

Quote in Context

And here I prophesy: this brawl to-day,
Grown to this faction in the Temple-garden,
Shall send between the red rose and the white
A thousand souls to death and deadly night.
                                                         1 Henry VI (2.4), Warwick

In this pivotal scene, Richard Plantagenet picks a white rose from a bush growing in the Temple Garden and coaxes those that believe his cause is just to do the same. Somerset counters by plucking a red rose from another bush and calls upon his supporters to pick their own. Warwick chooses a white rose, but laments the carnage this division will bring, as we see in the above passage. Interestingly, the Temple Garden scene is considered by many scholars to be the only scene in the play good enough to be wholly written by Shakespeare. Refusing to chalk up the play's overall mediocrity to Shakespeare's first attempt at the chronicle history genre, critics since Coleridge have insisted that someone else was responsible for this artistic disappointment. In the words of Coleridge himself:
Read aloud in any two or three passages in blank verse even from Shakspeare's earliest dramas, as Love's Labour's Lost or Romeo and Juliet; and then read in the same way this speech [Bedford's 1.1.1] with special attention to the metre; and, if you do not feel the impossibility of the latter having been written by Shakespeare, all I dare suggest is, that you may have ears - for so has another animal - but an ear you cannot have, me judice." (From The Literary Remains Vol. II, 1836.)
Certainly even the lackluster, uneven and cruel portrayal of Joan of Arc - the strongest evidence to support the claim that another penned at least part of 1 Henry VI - could be due to Shakespeare's inexperience and desire to please his English audience. For more on the evidence supporting Shakespeare's authorship of 1 Henry VI, please see English History in Shakespeare's Plays and for a discussion of Shakespeare's early writing, please see Four Periods of Shakespeare's Life.