George Plantagenet, also known as the Duke of Clarence, is a significant character in William Shakespeare's play Henry VI, Part 3. Born on October 21, 1449, George Plantagenet was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. As a member of the powerful House of York, George played a crucial role in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars that ravaged England during the 15th century.
George Plantagenet first appears in Henry VI, Part 3 as a loyal supporter of his elder brother, Edward, Earl of March. Together with Edward, he fights against the Lancastrians led by Queen Margaret. However, as the play progresses, George's loyalty and ambition begin to waver.
One of the most memorable moments in George's storyline is his secret marriage to Isabel Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick. This marriage alliance infuriates Edward, who sees it as a betrayal of their previous agreement to marry Lady Elizabeth Grey, a union that would strengthen Edward's claim to the throne. George's marriage to Isabel fuels the growing tension and division within the House of York.
George Plantagenet's ambition and desire for power ultimately lead to his downfall. In Henry VI, Part 3, he becomes disillusioned with his brother Edward's rule and aligns himself with the Lancastrians, hoping to secure his own position. However, this decision proves fatal for George.
Edward, now King Edward IV, discovers George's treachery and has him arrested for treason. George is subsequently imprisoned in the Tower of London. While in prison, he is accused of plotting against Edward's life, and his fate is sealed.
In a tragic turn of events, George is sentenced to death by drowning in a butt of Malmsey wine. This method of execution is particularly symbolic, as George was known for his fondness of wine. Shakespeare masterfully portrays George's demise as a consequence of his own ambition and betrayal.
George Plantagenet, the Duke of Clarence, is a complex and flawed character in Henry VI, Part 3. His storyline adds depth and intrigue to the play, highlighting the themes of ambition and betrayal that permeate throughout Shakespeare's historical masterpiece.