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MonkeyNotes-Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

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Act I, Scene III


The Duke of Gloucester arrives at the cover of London to
inspect the artillery and ammunition stored there. The men
guarding the tower inform him that Winchesterís order forbids
him entry into the tower. Gloucesterís men are about to
forcibly break in when Winchester enters with his men. A
heated argument between the two men is followed by an attack
on Winchesterís men by Gloucesterís soldiers. The Mayor of
London and his officers appear on the scene and read out a
proclamation forbidding the handling of weapons. This puts an
end to the fight, but before departing, the two men swear
revenge on each other in the future.


The action turns once more to England and focuses specifically
on the hostility between Gloucester and Winchester. The
animosity that had been brewing between the two men erupts
into open violence in this scene, precipitated by the argument
that takes place over Winchesterís order forbidding Gloucester
access to the Tower of London. The Tower of London serves
as the royal armory and the royal residence. Gloucester is the
Lord Protector and this thwarting of his authority by
Winchester, a man whom he mistrusts and dislikes incites him
to rage. Winchester sees him as a threat to his ambition and not
to be outdone, he throws a verbal brick for brick. Gloucesterís
order to his men to overcome the other party shows the extent
to which their disharmony has escalated. It points out clearly
the disunity that is rampant in the English ranks.

The words of the Mayor are a reminder to the two men to the
extent to which they have let their personal feelings overpower
their civil rank and duties. But the two are too far-gone to be
reminded of their civic responsibility. When the appeal to their
reason fails, the Mayor has to resort to the authority of the law
to establish peace. He succeeds in doing this but it is clear that
he has achieved only a momentarily respite. The fight has been
postponed and the swearing of revenge by the two men
foreshadows more violence.

This is an important scene as it shows the progression of the
plot. The disharmony that existed in the English has now
deteriorated the entire situation leading to a complete
breakdown in unity. The fight has come out in the open and its
resolution promises only doom for the English. The momentum
of the scene is at its highest when the two side fight and calms
down with the entrance and proclamations of the Mayor. The
scene ends on a note of crude comedy with the Mayorís
ejaculation "I myself fight not once in forty year."

Although it does provide momentary comic relief it only serves
to highlight, by its very contrasting nature, the grim
significance of what has just occurred.

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MonkeyNotes-Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

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