Couple à gorge, that is the word. I defy thee again. O hound of Crete, think’st thou my spouse to get? No, to the spital go, and from the powd’ring tub of infamy fetch forth the lazar kite of Cressid’s kind, Doll Tearsheet she by name, and her espouse. I have, and I will hold, the quondam Quickly for the only she: and pauca, there’s enough too! Go to.
(Act 2, scene 1, lines 72–78)

These lines show that Pistol remains the same old aggressive and irascible man we first met when he “swaggered” his way into Henry IV, Part 2. Just as in the earlier play, his speech is characterized by a strange and often incomprehensible mixture of languages and references. Though he aims to appear learned, he usually gets the details wrong. For instance, his phrase “couple à gorge” is an amusing corruption of the French phrase, couper la gorge, meaning “cut the throat.” Other times he mixes “high” references with “low” referents, as when he alludes to the legendary Trojan woman Cressida and links her to the prostitute Doll Tearsheet. The overall impression Pistol gives with his speech is that of a blustering and ridiculous man.

Pistol: “The plainsong” is most just, for humors do abound.
Knocks go and come. God’s vassals drop and die,
    [Sings] And sword and shield,
              In bloody field,
              Doth win immortal fame.
Boy: Would I were in an alehouse in London! I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.
Pistol: And I.
    [Sings] If wishes would prevail with me,
              My purpose should not fail with me,
              But thither would I hie.
(Act 3, scene 2, lines 7–18)

This exchange introduces a moment of lightness into the scene where the English forces infiltrate the coastal French village of Harfleur. Despite a general willingness to fight in the taverns of Eastcheap, Pistol tends to run from real battles. His cowardliness is amusing given his official status as an “ancient” (or “ensign”), which is a low-ranking soldier. Here he notes how intense the fighting has become, which leads him to sing a song as he withdraws from the action. His pun on the word “plainsong”—here meaning both “plain truth” and “simple song”—suggests that Pistol may be read as a kind of heir to Falstaff, that inveterate punster who died offstage in the previous act.

Fortune is Bardolph’s foe and frowns on him, for he hath stolen a pax and hangèd must he be. A damnèd death! Let gallows gape for dog, let man go free, and let not hemp his windpipe suffocate. But Exeter hath given the doom of death for pax of little price. Therefore go speak; the Duke will hear thy voice, and let not Bardolph’s vital thread be cut with edge of penny cord and vile reproach. Speak, captain, for his life, and I will thee requite.
(Act 3, scene 6, lines 39–47)

Pistol addresses these words to the Welsh captain Fluellen, issuing a plea for him to help spare the life of his friend, Bardolph, who has been sentenced to hang for stealing. The language of this speech is uncharacteristically urgent and moving, suggesting that when the stakes are high enough Pistol can set his ridiculous bravado aside and communicate effectively. Pistol’s plea for help in saving his friend’s life also demonstrates a degree of loyalty and love that he hasn’t previously shown. But this moment of vulnerability is short lived. Fluellen rejects Pistol’s plea, insisting that in cases like this, “discipline ought to be used” (3.6.54–55). This rejection enflames the tension between Pistol and Fluellen, which continues throughout the rest of the play.