Study Guide

Henry V Act 3, Scene 6

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Act 3, Scene 6

Read the full text of Henry V Act 3 Scene 6 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Over at the English camp, we learn that Bardolph has been busted for stealing a pax (a tablet with a crucifix stamped on it) from a Church. He's been sentenced to death for looting.
  • Pistol begs Captain Fluellen to intercede on Bardolph's behalf.
  • When Fluellen says that Bardolph deserves to be punished, Pistol throws a tantrum and makes an obscene hand gesture called a "fig" (or fico), which involves pushing his thumb between two fingers. (It's basically the equivalent of flipping someone the bird – kind of like when Sampson bites his thumb at the Montague's servants in Romeo and Juliet.)
  • Fluellen is unimpressed.
  • Just then, Gower recognizes who Pistol is and chimes in that Pistol is nothing more than a "bawd and a cutpurse" (a pimp and a thief). He says that guys like Pistol are a dime a dozen in times of war. They show up at the battlefield and talk a lot of smack without ever actually doing anything. Then, they go home from war and brag to everyone about how brave they were.
  • King Henry arrives with his exhausted soldiers in tow.
  • Fluellen proudly reports that the English have taken over an important French bridge, which he calls a "pridge." (This is Shakespeare's way of exaggerating Fluellen's Welsh accent.)
  • When Henry finds out that his old pal Bardolph has been busted for looting a local Church, he declares that any other English soldiers caught stealing or abusing the French villagers will be hanged, period. (Hmm. Maybe someone should remind Henry that he's in the process of trying to steal the French crown.)
  • Montjoy enters with a message from the French king: "Though we seemed dead, we did but sleep." (Translation: Even though you took Harfleur, we're going to crush you if you take one step further into France.)
  • King Henry asks Montjoy to deliver a message to King Charles: Even though the English army is exhausted and sickly, the French better watch their backs because they're not going to back down.
  • Henry tips the enemy messenger (which is kind of cool) and sends him on his way.

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