Overview of Series:
The four plays Richard II
, Henry IV Parts One and Two
, and Henry V
were written over several years from 1595 to 1599 and have usually been produced as single plays. However, they also comprise a single, two-generational story from the failures of Richard II through the triumphs of Henry V, a story that is part history, part invention, and one that Shakespeare used to draw lessons about monarchy and society in England. Henry IV, Part Two
and Henry V
are being offered as two separate courses. Members are free to enroll in one or both of these courses; participation in the previous courses on Richard
II and Henry IV Part One
in fall 2017 is not a prerequisite for either course. Each course will begin by watching the production of the play from the BBC series The Hollow Crown
, which reduces each play to about two and a half hours, but the discussion will require the full text. The Folger Shakespeare Library edition by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine is recommended as it is very readable and informative.
R419 Henry V
Tuesdays, 11:50–1:15, Apr. 24–May 15
Instructor: Karen Miles
With Henry V
, Shakespeare creates a character that embodies, as closely as humanly possible, the perfect king. Following his poor initial prospects and his long, unorthodox education, Henry V
deals masterfully with all of the issues that bedeviled his father: continuing challenges from independent-minded and powerful nobles; lack of legitimization from the clergy; and the desire of the commons for freedom from all constraints of law and morality. The discussion will focus on the qualities of character that enable Henry V
to unite the classes and the countries of Great Britain on the domestic front and to regain Britain’s territories and stature abroad.
Karen Miles holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in French literature. She taught at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin–Parkside before becoming a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since retiring, she has taught courses on Shakespeare for OLLI.