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MonkeyNotes-Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

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Act III, Scene II


Joan and some of her soldiers disguised as peasants enter the
city of power. At her signal, the French, led by Dauphin attack
the city. The leaders of the two sides encounter each other in a
parley (conference). Talbot invites them to a battle but the
French refuse his offer. Talbot and Burgundy vow to win
Rouen back. The dying Duke of Bedford elects to stay in the
field and watch the English fight. Fastolfe, fearing the coming
battle, flees from the scene. After witnessing the defeat of the
French, Bedford dies a happy man. After giving the Duke of
Bedford a noble funeral, the English leave for Paris, where
Henry VI lies with his noblemen.


The entire tilt of the scene is on the glory and greatness of the
English. Even the victory that the French win is a disgrace
because they will by deceit. Then they compound their disgrace
by refusing to fight in the field like real warriors.

This is a scene of contrasts. The first is between Talbot and
Joan. He treats her with disgust and whenever he addresses her
or refers to her he uses strong language. She, on the other hand,
refuses to respond to his angry taunts. Her whole attitude is
tinted by pragmatic common sense and Talbotís threats do not
intimidate her. In fact, she ridicules his angry outburst by
saying," If Talbot do but thunder, rain will follow." The second
contrast is between the two English noblemen: Bedford and
Fastolfe. The older one, even though he is dying, he refuses to
have the field. The other can think of nothing except to save his
own neck. Whereas Bedford personifies every virtue of a noble
English warrior, Fastolfe is the epitome of disgrace and as the
captain says, he is a "Cowardly Knight."

As Talbot says, this scene shows the "double honor" of the
English losing and then recovering Rouen in one day. After
recovering Rouen and once again installing the English there,
Talbot is ready to depart for Paris to pay his respects to the
young Henry VI.

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MonkeyNotes-Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

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