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Henry VI Part 1

William Shakespeare

Act V, Scene v

Act V, Scenes i-iv

Act V, Scene vi

Summary

Suffolk enters the scene of the battle with a prisoner in tow. The prisoner is the lovely young Margaret, whose beauty enthralls her captor. She says she is the daughter of the king of Naples, otherwise known as René. (René is the Duke of Anjou and also the king of both Naples and Sicily.) Suffolk wants to free her but cannot bear to part with the sight of her.

She asks him what ransom she must pay before she can leave. Suffolk mutters to himself that she must submit to being wooed, since "she is a woman, and therefore to be won"(V.v.34). Margaret continues to ask him if she can go, while Suffolk ruminates that he has a wife and, thus, cannot woo the girl for himself. Yet he cannot resist the delightful challenge of winning her; finally, he decides to woo her for the king. He thinks he can cleverly legitimate such a move: for after all, Margaret is technically the daughter of a "king"--the king of Naples--even though her father has no money.

Meanwhile, Margaret grows annoyed that Suffolk, lost in his schemes, is ignoring her questions of him. Finally Suffolk speaks to her and asks her if she would like to be a wife to a king. She says she would prefer to be a queen in bondage than a servant, so she agrees if Henry and her father also desire the match.

The French generals enter, and Suffolk calls to René. René is upset to learn of his daughter's imprisonment, since he has no money to ransom her. But Suffolk offers him an alternative: his daughter will be married to the king of England! René asks if Suffolk speaks for the king, and Suffolk assures him he does. René says that he will give his consent to the marriage in exchange for permission to keep control of his French territories. Suffolk agrees and prepares to go to England to complete the deal. René and Margaret prepare to depart, but Suffolk asks Margaret for a kiss first.

When they are gone, Suffolk expresses the wish that he could woo Margaret for himself. But he determines to go to Henry and speak of Margaret's virtues and convince him to marry her.

Commentary

Self-interest wins again with Suffolk, who wants the king to marry Margaret because he himself is so taken with her. So he woos Margaret, allegedly for the king. When he later convinces Henry to marry Margaret, he overturns the plan already in effect to have Henry marry a relative of Charles, thus, effecting a peace with France, instead convincing him to marry a bride without any real fortune or kingdom. Thus, Suffolk sacrifices the country's chance at peace with France for the sake of his own frivolous self-interest.

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A Young King and the Dangers of a Power Vacuum

by ReadingShakespearefor450th, April 30, 2013

I finished reading and blogged on Henry VI, Part One in effort to read all Shakespeare by April 2014. If it's of interest, my blog link follows:

http://ow.ly/kA2g5

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