The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0912  Monday, 23 April 2001

From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday 23 Apr 2001 09:21:05 +0100
Subject: 12.0836 Re: Feathers
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0836 Re: Feathers

OK, as I stagger reeling from the RSC's 'This England' series (8 plays
in 5 days!) I am in a position to pronounce on the significance of the
feathers in the production of H6 and R3.  My short answer is that there
is no significance, and no discernible pattern.  A slightly longer
answer would be that they are something pretty for the audience to look
at - there is, after all, no scenery.  Remember that in post-modern art
things that would have been symbols in other eras are just surface
decoration.  I was disappointed that there were no feathers featuring in
the two Icarus references.

Red feathers first fall in 1H6 as Salisbury is mortally wounded by the
Gunner's Boy.  After the interval there are no feathers for the deaths
of Bedford, or Talbot and his son.  Red feathers (possibly a larger
size) fall as Joan is dragged to execution (or undergoes a stylised
immolation on stage).  There are no falls of feathers in 2H6.  In 3H6
white feathers fall at the beginning of one of the battles (Towton?),
then more white feathers, then some red feathers were added (I didn't
actually see these fall, they seemed to just appear on the ground -
perhaps I was concentrating on the play...).  The feathers were still on
the ground as Henry was taken by the Park Keepers, and they for once
enter into the action (3H6 Act 3 Sc 1, line 83 "Look, as I blow this
feather from my face,").  After the interval, there were red feathers as
Henry was alone (in the Tower?).  Admittedly, Henry had been holding a
single white feather at other odd moments, but I was looking for
multiple feathers...

In R3 there was much too much action to leave time for feathers, but
there was a fall of small white feathers from the balcony during
Richard's dream before Bosworth (Act 5), while the ghosts of the two
Princes hold up pillows as instruments of their martyrdom.  (I was quite
pleased as a feather spotter, because I had predicted this one!)  This
could charitably be regarded as a joke...

So there you have it!

John Briggs

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