King John

by: William Shakespeare

Act III, Scenes iii-iv

Commentary

In this section the play, most of the thematic exploration has been replaced by the mere procession of narrative event and detail; the scheming manipulations of various nobles have now assumed center stage, a place they will continue to occupy. With Arth ur in his custody, John has the means to assure his claim to the throne: eliminating Arthur. He leaves that task to Hubert, slyly complimenting him and suggesting an end for Arthur, rather than directly commanding him to kill Arthur. But Pandolf cleverly foretells John's actions and suggests future unrest in England when the population discovers Arthur's death and the robbery of the monasteries. For all his holy separation from the world of men, Pandolf has an excellent idea of the future tides of English opinion, more so than even John, who indifferently makes commands without seeing all their consequences.

The French and the English both manage to lose record numbers of armies at sea during the duration of this play. But the kings are relatively unconcerned: More soldiers can always be raised! Bristling with ambition after Pandolf's scheming speech, Louis sets off to England to try to get the English throne for himself.


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