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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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Act IV, Scene 1

Summary

The scene is Gaultree forest in Yorkshire. The Archbishop of York, Mowbray, Hastings and others are waiting for the return of the scouts who have been sent to find out about the size of the royal forces led by Prince John of Lancaster. York tells them that he has received news from Northumberland. Northumberland has written that since he is unable to raise sufficient number of forces he has returned to Scotland till favorable times and he sends his good wishes. A messenger comes and reports that the royalists are thirty thousand strong. Mowbray decides to face them on the field. Westmoreland enters and brings greetings from John and Lancaster, and a message for York. He asks York why the “Reverend Father,” a learned man, has turned rebel. York, who should be a peacemaker, whose learning and good letters should spread harmony and peace, has turned his books to graves, his ink to blood, pens to lances, and his divine tongue blows the trumpet of war. York tries to substantiate his intentions by pointing to the misrule of Henry IV and the same affliction has fatally infected the dead Richard II. He argues that though he had been an enemy of peace, he regrets it and has offered articles of grievances to the King. He complains that his grievances have not been accepted. Westmoreland wonders who had denied him this and says there is no chance of corruption in the ecclesiastical office. York says that Henry IV had been responsible for the death of his brother. Westmoreland says that there is not much importance to personal losses. Mowbray says that all of them feel the bruises of the past days and suffer the outcome of it. Westmoreland says that due to the lawlessness prevailing in the country some injustice must have been done, but the King should not be considered responsible for it. He further says that the title and estates of Mowbray’s father, Duke of Norfolk, have been restored. Mowbray recalls the quarrel between the late Duke and Bolingbroke (Henry IV) as a result of which both of them were banished. If Richard had allowed them to settle their dispute in the lists of Coventry, Richard would not have lost his crown and life. Westmoreland says that the public opinion was in favor of Henry and against the late Duke of Norfolk. He says that he has come to hear the complaints of the rebels and to inform them that Prince John will hear them and yield to them if their demands are just.


Mowbray suspects this but Westmoreland assures that the motive is an honest, one for mercy and not fear. He says that their army is more confident than the rebel leaders’. Their men are more perfect in the use of arms and their hearts are good. At last York is made aware that the Prince’s motive is an honest one and he requests Westmoreland to take the grievances to the Prince. He promises that if each is satisfactorily settled, the armies will disperse. Westmoreland says that the decision will be made while both armies wait within eyesight. Mowbray objects but York says that the King is tired of petty quarrels and he has learned the lesson that the death of one traitor will lead to the birth of two. Hastings adds that having become tired of war, the King is now a “fangless lion.” York consoles Mowbray and assures that if the treaty does not succeed then the rebel power will be all the greater. Westmoreland enters and says that Prince John will meet the rebels at a place between both camps.

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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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