O tiger’s heart wrapt in a woman’s hide!
How couldst thou drain the life-blood of the child,
To bid the father wipe his eyes withal,
And yet be seen to bear a woman’s face?
Women are soft, mild, pitiful and flexible;
Thou stern, obdurate, flinty, rough, remorseless.
this speech is dearest to me because Margaret basically stands there, with her hands covered in blood, like “yep.”
A wisp of straw were worth a thousand crowns,
To make this shameless callet know herself.
Helen of Greece was fairer far than thou,
Although thy husband may be Menelaus;
And ne’er was Agamemnon’s brother wrong’d
By that false woman, as this king by thee.
helen with a choice myth re. margaret :)))))))
which is great for two reasons:
a. because she’s trained specifically as helen, before she even gets to the court. suffolk ends part i: “thus he goes / as did the youthful paris once to greece/ with hope to find the like event in love / but prosper better than the trojan did.” (honey. good luck.) her lover sees her, decides to queenmake her, casts her as helen by casting himself as paris, instils her with power thereby. gives her power to get him power, but her power outstrips his by far; it has to. so: loves her and is loved by her, queenmakes her and is elevated by her, but then: dies. and leaves the legend in her hands before the war starts.
b. the war starts, and is governed, by the yorks, by the tautological logic of women in war—the war is fought because she is in it, because “she” is in it. this speech ends: “hadst thou been meek, our title still had slept.” they wouldn’t have fought the king, they say, not like this. it’s the WRANGLING WOMAN who moves them to action, because she wrangles, because her life is inviolate of the rules of battle and the rules of courtly decorum at large. and that, because she’s been bred specifically larger than those rules, specifically as a tool of violating those rules. because she’s everyone’s helen, including her own: a force of nature to the country/a deceitful slut to her enemies/lover of her lover and elevated tool of the destiny he chose/queen of herself.
(aside, to Suffolk’s head)
Thus Suffolk hath prevail’d; and thus he goes,
As did the youthful Paris once to Greece,
With hope to find the like event in love,
But prosper better than the Trojan did.
Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king;
But I will rule both her, the king and realm.
Incidentally, I’m a disgustingly obvious person.
Say, gentle princess, would you not suppose
Your bondage happy, to be made a queen?
To be a queen in bondage is more vile
Than is a slave in base servility;
For princes should be free.
And so shall you,
If happy England’s royal king be free.
Why, what concerns his freedom unto me?
I’ll undertake to make thee Henry’s queen,
To put a golden sceptre in thy hand
And set a precious crown upon thy head,
If thou wilt condescend to be my—
but actually the best bit about suffolk’s massive Team Margaret speech—and there are so many good things, like henry’s giddy shut-in ‘is this what love is like?’ baffled excitement, like his hugely melodramatic verbal recoil when gloucester mentions margaret’s poverty: “MONEY????? THAT’S WHAT PEASANTS WORRY ABOUT!”, like the fact that he won’t stop talking and is all ‘this is nothing, wait till you SEE her, this is goddamn appetizers’, like the FUCKING DOUBLE COUPLET—isn’t even in that scene, it’s in v.iii, once margaret’s left:
Solicit Henry with her wondrous praise:
Bethink thee on her virtues that surmount,
And natural graces that extinguish art;
Repeat their semblance often on the seas,
That, when thou comest to kneel at Henry’s feet,
Thou mayst bereave him of his wits with wonder.
HE SPENDS THE WHOLE BOAT RIDE HOME REHEARSING WHAT HE’S GOING TO TELL HENRY
(and he tells himself, yeahhhhh, just keep thinking about margaret and what a catch she is, this is the Best Strategic Decision Ever, and it’s a beautiful marvel of self-justification and i bet none of the sailors have any time for it at all)
THAT’S THE RHYMING BIT OUI?
y; also SPEAKING OF RHYMING, two scenes later suffolk ends his massive (MASSIVE!) speech to henry about why he (henry) should marry margaret with not one but TWO COUPLETS
For Henry, son unto a conqueror,
Is likely to beget more conquerors,
If with a lady of so high resolve
As is fair Margaret he be link’d in love.
Then yield, my lords; and here conclude with me
That Margaret shall be queen, and none but she.
like he’s so proud of himself, clearly. LOOK! I MADE A CONVINCING ARGUMENT, THE METER SAYS SO. (guise look i made a poem for the lady that means she’s real good.)
Fain would I woo her, yet I dare not speak:
I’ll call for pen and ink, and write my mind.
Fie, de la Pole! disable not thyself;
Hast not a tongue? is she not here?
Wilt thou be daunted at a woman’s sight?
IS SHE NOT HERE?
Suffolk: IMMEDIATE HUMAN DISASTER.
The best thing about this—as is the best thing about this whole scene—is that textually, in all their asides, they can hear each other. So Margaret’s on the sidelines, listening to his brain spin itself into a lusty milkshake inside his skull, hearing every word as he gets more frantic and more flustered and more knotted up with feelings and strategic improv, and occasionally interjecting, “So are you going to ransom me? How much money are you going to ask for? Speak up any time.”
(And then when he’s finally figured out how to make these feelings into political currency, he turns round and so does she, turns away and starts asiding to herself about how he’ll clearly be fair to her even though he has her at such a power discrepancy, he just seems like the sort—he finally comes out and asks her why she’s talking out loud and not to him, and she replies, “I cry you mercy, ‘tis but quid pro quo.” I’m trying not to quote the whole thing but it’s perfect they’re perfect they’re textually engaged flirtatious powerflip perfection and it’s one of my favorite scenes in the whole of Shakespeare because it’s perfect now you know)
Yet if this servile usage once offend,
Go and be free again as Suffolk’s friend.
(She is going)
This fool, thinks Margaret.
Marriage, uncle? Alas, my years are young;
And fitter is my study and my books
Than wanton dalliance with a paramour
henry you tit she’s going to be your WIFE