Henry VI Part 3

by: William Shakespeare

Act II, Scenes iii-vi

Summary Act II, Scenes iii-vi

Clifford enters, with an arrow in his neck. He knows it is the end for him, and he regrets his fall, thinking that Henry will be weaker without his help. He wishes Henry had ruled as a strong king should, like his father and grandfather, for then the house of York could not have advanced so far. Then, he and so many other thousands would not have died in the struggle. He faints.

Edward enters, with Richard and George, followed by Warwick and Montague. Edward speaks of their good fortune in battle and mentions that some troops follow Margaret; he wonders if Clifford is with them. Clifford groans as he dies, and Richard finds the body. Warwick commands York's head be removed from the town wall, and Clifford's put up instead. As they drag the body out, the lords interrogate Clifford, mocking him to see if he is yet alive--but he is not.

Warwick hastens the brothers to London to claim the crown and plans to go immediately to France to ask for the hand of Lady Bona for Edward. If Edward can ally with France, then they will be able to resist the queen's armies, should they again reunite. Edward makes Richard the Duke of Gloucester and George the Duke of Clarence. Richard asks to switch with George, not wanting to be connected to a title so unlucky, since the previous three Gloucesters died violently. But Edward insists, and they head off for London.

These battle scenes place Henry off to the side of the action, watching the battle from a nearby hillside. First, he yearns for a more private, simpler life, but he is instantly brought back to his public role when he witnesses more examples of the disaster wrought by the disruption of normal family ties. One soldier has accidentally killed his son, and another his father, because the battle lines of the nobility have caused the different generations to go to war against each other. The results are deadly and unnatural; no father should kill his own son, or vice versa. Henry identifies his role as head of the nation with that of the father or son who must now bear the brunt of his horrible deed. Henry, too, must bear the guilt of the events that the state must endure, including the death of thousands of people over this dispute among nobles.

Meanwhile, Richard does not have the pleasure of killing Clifford himself, as he had so enthusiastically sought throughout the battle. As he dies, Clifford, too, attributes the problems of the nation to the fact that Henry was not a strong enough king to rule effectively and to restrain the Yorks.