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Act II, Scene III
The countess is ready to trap Talbot when he arrives. But she is
so surprised at his diminutive size that she has difficulty
believing that he is the same man who is the terror of France.
When she declares him her prisoner, Talbot summons his
soldiers and announces that they are the real forces behind his
power. The countess is overcome and repentant at having
misjudged the true nature of Talbotís success. Talbot forgives
her and only asks her to serve them with wine and food, of
which his soldiers are in need. The countess declares herself
honored to serve such a great warrior in her house.
The incident of the countess is of an anecdotal kind of drama in
which incidents are presented for the sake of immediate
dramatic effect rather than for their contribution to the total
patter. The incident in this scene has no effect on later action: it
is a mere anecdote of the war. It does have great dramatic
appeal for the audience: Talbotís outwitting the wily countess
is sure to break the monotony of the preceding scenes.
Through this scene Talbot is able to pay tribute to his soldiers,
who play a large if invisible part in his success. As the countess
is surprised into exclaiming, Talbot is a "weak and writhed
shrimp" yet he strikes terror in the heart of his enemies. And
when she claims she has captured the man who has proved so
ruinous for France, Talbot tells her she is making a mistake.
For it his soldiers might that has bought his name glory. This
scene serves to show that a general is only as good as the man
he commands. And anonymous soldiers who are the real
weapons of a general earn the real credit for any success.
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