Henry VI Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

Suggested Essay Topics

Consider civil dissention in this play. What metaphors are used to describe it? What threat does it pose?

A variety of leaders make their mark on the plot of the play. What different kinds of leadership do we see? Does any one kind seem better than any of the others?

In a story about struggles between England and France, the idea of nation comes into focus. What does this concept seem to mean to the French and to the English? How does patriotism come to differentiate itself from politics, particularly in England?

Joan of Arc's fame is not limited to her appearance in this play. How does Shakespeare's Joan resemble or differ from the Joan of other authors or media?

This play contains multiple battle scenes. How do you think these would or would not be effective in a small theater, such as the one used in Shakespeare's time, or even in a modern theater? How might you stage them if you were a director? Would you devote much time to them proportionately or privilege the play's dialogue?

Consider the idea of chivalry as it is played out within this play. How does the old mode of chivalry contrast with newer practices? Consider Talbot and Joan as figures of contrasting warrior cultures, both on and off the battlefield.

How much should a playwright sacrifice historical accuracy for the sake of drama? This play represents historical events but not quite as they happened. Many modern-day films do the same thing. Should a more compelling story take precedence over factual truth? What are the dangers of fictionalizing events while presenting them as "history"?


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