Most of us are familiar with Shakespeare’s Henry V, if not from having read the play recently, then certainly from having seen Kenneth Branagh’s marvelous film version (and perhaps having compared it to Olivier’s WWII-era treatment). Many of you will also know Henry IV, Part One (and, to a lesser extent, Henry IV, Part Two), if only because of the livening presence of Shakespeare’s great comic creation, Falstaff, in both plays. But the story really begins with Richard II, whose ill-fated reign and subsequent overthrow constitutes an insightful look into the nature of power, and the costs both of losing it and of gaining it. The language, though, is the chief delight yielded up by a close reading of this play.
GROUP LEADER: James E. Foley is an Emeritus Professor of English, having retired from Worcester State University in December 2015. His chief interests continue to be Shakespeare, 19th century American literature, and drama of all periods.
REQUIRED BOOK: Any edition of Richard II
FOR THE FIRST CLASS: Read Act I, Richard II
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609