Henry VI, Part 1 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry VI, Part 1 | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Charles the Dauphin and Joan la Pucelle are crossing the plains of Anjou, accompanied by Burgundy, Alanson, Reignier, and the Bastard of Orleance. Charles reports that Paris has revolted against its English occupiers, which seems like encouraging news for the French. Then, however, a scout enters and tells Charles the English army is approaching, ready to do battle with the Dauphin and his forces. Charles is caught off guard by this news, but Joan urges him to be courageous.

Analysis

This short scene offers little in the way of character development, but it helps to keep the action moving along. Its main purpose is to show that the tide of battle has turned against the French. After Talbot is slain, one might expect that the French forces would ride roughshod over the remaining English troops; in fact the opposite seems to have happened. The Dauphin is now complaining of "drooping spirits" and looking about for a glimmer of good news—hardly the attitude of a commander flushed with victory. Together with Act 5, Scene 3, in which the French are decisively defeated, this scene helps to prepare the audience for the later truce negotiations with England. Without these two preparatory scenes, the weakened bargaining position of the French in Act 5, Scene 4 would be difficult to explain.

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