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MonkeyNotes-Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

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Act IV, Scene VI

Summary

The battle has begun. Talbot rescues his son from the French.
Talbot commends him on his courage and tells him that now
that he has proved himself, he must flee and live to avenge his
fatherís death when he dies. He adds that with Johnís life the
Talbot name will go on. But John refuses to perform so
cowardly an act and so Talbot has to accept his decision.

Notes

In this battle, Talbot and his son must die and Bordeaux will
never be retaken. For Shakespeare, this is to be the last battle of
the Hundred-Year-War and the last stand of the English
Chivalry. Whatever "victory" Talbot and his son might achieve
here will not be commemorated in actualities of human history.
Talbot unwittingly formulates this problem when he commands
his son, "Fly, to revenge my death if I be slain." Young
Talbotís answer, "He that flees so will never return again."
Serves to expose the insolubility of their dilemma. If he flees
he will cease to be Talbotís son. But if he remains their "name"
will be extinct in another sense. They discover that the ideal,
which is figured by their heroic "name," is so pure that it can
be ratified only in the very act of death.

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MonkeyNotes-Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare
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