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Free Study Guide-Henry VIII by William Shakespeare-Free Plot Synopsis Notes
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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES

ACT V, SCENE IV

Summary

The common people are crowding the palace court, eager to witness the new princes at her christening. The Porter and his man attempt vainly to bring the multitude to order. The people are imperious to authority and have overpowered those who tried to hold them back. An angry lord Chamberlain informs the porter that if the King blames him for this mob, he will ensure that the porters are imprisoned. As the royal party comes out after the christening, the porter and his man part the crowd to ensure their unhindered progress.


Notes

The christening of the young princess has drawn a large crowd. The common people look upon it as a festive occasion and have all gathered at the palace yard to catch a glimpse of the princess. Their enthusiasm is so great they’ve defied the authority of the porter’s men, whose job it is to keep order in the palace. The scene provides a description of the common people and their general attitude toward the royalty. They see the birth of the princess as an occasion to celebrate.

It is a humorous scene portraying the plight of the harassed porter and his man, who despite his best effort cannot control the excited multitude. The irritable Lord Chamberlain, with his grumpy complaints and threats also adds to the levity of the scene. The mob is totally out of control and it is delightful to watch the outraged frustration they cause in snobbish palace officials.

The speech patterns of various officials in the scene are interesting to note the porter and his man, both of who reside on the lower rungs of the class ladder, speak like the commoners. The dramatist uses the prose form in the dialogue construction. This type of speech characterized the way the common man spoke in Shakespeare’s plays. Lord Chamberlain, a nobleman, on the other hand, speaks in blank verse, that is typical of the nobility.

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