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Free Study Guide-Henry VI, Part 2 by William Shakespeare-Free Book Notes
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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES

ACT IV, SCENE 7 (Continuation)

Summary

The place is Southwark. An alarm is heard and Cade enters with all his men. Cade gives further orders for destruction. Buckingham and Clifford enter. They tell Cade that they have come as ambassadors from the king, who agrees to forgive the rebels if they lay down their arms. Clifford calls for those who love the king to toss their hats in the air and to cry, “God save his majesty.” Those who hate him and the memory of his father can drop their weapons and leave.

All cry out, “God save the king.” Cade asks the common people if they really believe what Buckingham and Clifford have said. He wonders if these peasants will abandon the rebellion before they have won their freedom. He calls them cowards and slaves, and he warns them of the threat posed by the nobility. Hearing his words, the people run to him again. Clifford questions the people as to whether Cade is the son of the honorable Henry V. He then attacks Cade’s reputation and his abilities as a leader.

Clifford raises the possibility that the French could make a sudden invasion and conquer a divided England. He suggests that the French are already conspiring against them. He urges them to unite and go to France to regain what they have lost, for it is “(b)etter ten thousand base- born Cade’s (die)/ Than (they) should stoop unto a Frenchman’s mercy.” King Henry is rich, God is on their side and with all these favorable factors, they are sure to win.


England should be saved since it is their native coast. The people abandon Cade and go back to Clifford again. Cade desperately wonders why the name of Henry V inspires the people so much that they forsake him. He decides to retreat because he finds no other way out. He swears in front of the heavens that it is not due to his own lack of resolution that he is retreating, but due to the “base and ignominious treasons” of his followers. Buckingham gives orders that Cade be captured and beheaded. He asks the people to follow him so that he can reconcile them with their king.

Notes

This scene shows the confusion Cade causes in the minds of the English people. Buckingham and Clifford come as ambassadors from the king to negotiate peace between the king and the rebels. They try to convince the people that they are on the wrong path, and if they love their king and honor the king’s father, Henry V, they should retreat and go home in peace. The common people appear to be easily swayed. When they hear Clifford’s inspiring words, they side with him, but when they hear Cade’s threats, they go back to him.

In the end Clifford’s words strengthen them, and they become firm in their decision to return to the king. They are convinced of their duties to their own country. Clifford makes them understand that Cade is a ruffian whose income derives only from robbery and murder. He can never guide them to the path of safety. He has no home or relatives and is a traitor. Clifford points out the possibility of a sudden invasion from France, which could be disastrous, given the current state of affairs in England.

He inspires them to go to France and regain what they have lost and save their mother country, England. Thus they will display their true love for the king and honor for Henry V. It should be noted that the name of Henry V is held in high esteem and testifies to his golden reign. Clifford’s inspiring words have an effect, for the rebels ultimately forsake Cade. Cade is left with no other option than to flee. He remains bold and hopeful.

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