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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 3

Summary

The scene is Northumberland’s Castle at Warkworth. Northumberland, Lady Northumberland, and Lady Percy discuss his plans. The two ladies urge him not to take part in the revolt. He replies that his honor is at stake since he has 2given his word to join the rebels. Bitterly, Lady Percy replies that his honor did not prevent him from missing the battle of Shrewsbury when Hotspur badly needed his help. Lady Percy then describes how chivalrous and brave her late husband was. He had a pleasant and loving nature that made him very popular, and the noble youth of England tried to imitate him. She describes him as “the miracle of men,” and argues that with half the number of men they have at present, he would have defeated the royalists and have survived. Lady Northumberland urges her husband to hurry to Scotland and remain there until he comes to know about the events of the battle. At last Northumberland agrees and leaves.


Notes

The scene gives us a clear picture of Northumberland and also tells us about Hotspur. His decision to leave for Scotland after having given his word to lead the forces shows that he is concerned more about his own safety. That is why he had remained at home pretending to be sick instead of joining his son and brother at Shrewsbury. Lady Northumberland, his wife and the mother of Hotspur, is very concerned about her husband’s safety. She is a sensible woman, able to make major decisions on her own. She urges her husband to flee to Scotland and remain there till he learns how the revolt is going. She is more concerned about her husband’s life rather than the preservation of his honor.

Lady Percy, Hotspur’s wife, reveals her deep love for her dead husband. Bitterly, she reminds Northumberland that he did not think of the preservation of his honor when he failed to take part in the war at Shrewsbury. He did not help his son when he badly needed it. She further laments and says had Hotspur had half the army they have now, he would certainly have defeated the King. She sees Hotspur as a romantic figure out of Arthurian myth and says that is how the youth of England also see him; thus, his death is tragic.

This scene provides a link between Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

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