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Act V, Scene 3
The scene is Shallow’s orchard in Glouchestershire. Shallow invites Silent, Falstaff, Bardolph and the page to his apple orchard where they enjoy the natural beauty of rural England. Silent who has been a silent observer till this time, now gets intoxicated and bursts forth and starts singing one song after another. Falstaff, also intoxicated, comments on Shallow’s hospitality and Silent’s vitality. Davy announces the arrival of Pistol, who has come from the court with important news. Pistol is admitted inside and announces that Falstaff is one of the greatest men of the realm. Silent, intoxicated, says that one Goodman Puff is greater. Pistol explodes and denounces the harmless Silent as a “most recreant coward base.” Justice Shallow interprets and says that it is better that either the news is revealed or concealed. Falstaff is told that Hal, his “tender lambkins,” now rules England. Falstaff is elated. He orders Bardolph to saddle his horse and excitedly promises Shallow and Pistol high honors. He announces that he is “Fortune’s Steward” and commands Bardolph to take any horse since he is friends with the king.
This scene is noted for its marvelous comic elements. It is a scene of country life. Justice Shallow appears to be a good host who entertains his guests in a decent manner. He strongly believes in “Lack nothing be merry.” That shows the hospitable nature of the Justice and generally of the country folk of England.
The silent Silence, suddenly intoxicated by heavy drinking, explodes and starts singing. Pistol comes from the court with an important message. But instead of conveying it abruptly, he keeps exaggerating it and plays the fool. Finally, Shallow interprets and says that he should either utter it or conceal it. He says that he is under the authority of King Henry IV. Then Pistol reveals the truth that Henry V is the new King and the old King is dead. He says to Falstaff “thy tender lambkin now is King.”
Falstaff is overjoyed to hear this and he starts at once to the palace, thinking that good fortune awaits him; he promises Bardolph and Pistol great honors. Little does he know that his rejection has already been sanctioned by the new King. His large nature takes pleasure in ideas of lavish gifts as well as ample gain. He bids Shallow “be what thou wilt in the land.” He promises to double-charge Pistol with dignities. Falstaff is finally given up to shame and dishonor.