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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

King Edward III

Setting: 14th Century

England and France


My really abridged plot summary: King Edward III of England is told that he is the heir of France and he prepares to invade, but a messenger arrives and informs him that the Scots have invaded a castle in the North. Edward decides to handle that first, and when he arrives he instantly falls in love with the (already married) Countess of Salisbury. Keep in mind, he is married as well, but he's a king so that doesn't really matter to him. He tries to woo her, but she refuses.In an attempted bluff, she tells him she will be with him if he kills his wife AND, in turn, she will kill her husband. Yeah. Surprisingly (or not) he agrees, and out of desperation she threatens to take her own life. Edward admits his shame for his actions and he moves on with his life and decides to focus on being a king. End of plot #1. Edward then goes to France to join his troops and he gets into an argument with the current King of France, John II, over the throne. Edwards' son, Edward (known as Edward, the Black Prince), is knighted and goes into battle. The English win the battle and he chases after the French, but it seems as if he is outnumbered. King Edward attempts to seize Calais. The French camp is arrogant, and the English are hopeless. The Prince is able to capture King John. Meanwhile, Edward III is about to punish some of the French citizens when his wife shows up and begs him to show mercy. He obliges. A messenger arrives and tells Edward III that the King of Scots has been captured, but he still worries over the success of his son. Prince Edward finally returns AND with the captured King of France, and the English celebrate.

My favorite quote:

What Fates impose, that men must needs abide;

It boots not to resist both wind and tide.

-King Edward III, IV.iii


  • Overall Impression: 6- Ok, so first I have to address the elephant in the room: the issue of the authorship of this play. This play has been attributed to many other playwrights of Shakespeare's time, including Christopher Marlowe. There is evidence for, and evidence against this issue. Personally, I think I'm leaning towards the side that says if he did contribute to this piece at all, it was very minimal. It reads very differently than all of his other histories. Are there similarities? Yes, but there are also similarities between him and Marlowe's works.... The comedy reads differently, the ending is too neat, and the whole first half has a completely unrelated plot to the second half. It was kind of all over the place tonally. Not as straight through like the other histories. BUT it does feature the whole misunderstood prophecy trope like Julius Caesar and Macbeth do...

  • Use of Language: 10- Ok but the poetry in this play is GOREGOUS!!! I wish half of it wasn't creepy and about the Countess, like it would be really romantic under different circumstances. There is also a gorgeous monologue about the ideas of life and death towards the end which is so existentially beautiful!

  • Protagonist Arc: 7- Hmmm yeah I'm not the biggest fan, but it was there. He grew from his experience with the Countess, he shows forgiveness at the end. I'll give personal growth to him.

  • Female Characters: 9- I love the Countess!! She's so cool and smart!!! There's also some AWESOME monologues here for her!!

  • Fits Genre: 7- Hmmmmmmm so this is play read more like one of his romances than his histories!! Like yes, it's about English (almost Tudor line) history, but the nice ending is just more fitting for the Romances. I don't really think he wrote it. Marlowe literally wrote Edward II, so he easily could have written Edward III, since Shakespeare liked to do the Henry's and Richard's in order. But that's just my opinion.

  • Overall Enjoyment: 7- I thought this play was a lot funnier than it was intended to be. Warwick literally reminded me of Polonius LOL! There was (roughly) a line that was like "say hi to God for me, I'm gonna kill you now"

  • Hype Worthy: 5- Eh this play was average, and I would recommend most of his other plays over this one, plus did he even write it? Like read Henry V if you want something similar, but better! LOLOLOLOL

  • Emotional Impact: 5- I have zero emotional connections to any of these characters (except the Countess who is irrelevant for 75% of this play), but I don't hate any of the characters.

Total: 55/80

Average: 6

*3 out of 5 stars*

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