Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 2 | Act 2, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Northumberland, Northumberland's wife, and Lady Percy (his daughter-in-law) walk outside what is likely Warkworth Castle and discuss the rebellion. The two women do not want him to throw his forces in with the archbishop of York. Northumberland tells him that honor demands he go, but Lady Percy convinces him to reconsider. They ask him to flee to Scotland and only join in the fighting when the time is right. He agrees.

Analysis

In this scene the archbishop and Lord Bardolph's concerns about becoming overconfident and counting on troops that do not appear play out. Northumberland decides he will not use his troops to aid the rebellion. Lady Percy, Hotspur's widow, is instrumental in getting Northumberland to make this decision. She plays on his grief over the death of his son, reminding him that he did not send his troops to aid Hotspur when it mattered most. Whether out of guilt or a desire to save his own life, Northumberland relents. This will have dire consequences for the archbishop's rebellion. Shakespeare goes out of his way to have this important decision take place, not out in the male-dominated political world, but privately at home with the women of Northumberland's family.

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