Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Act 1, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 2

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 1 Act 1 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Here we bounce over to France, as we can tell by the entrance of the crown prince (called the Dauphin here). He announces that the war is going well for the French and that they have all the most significant towns in the war again. Naturally he's pretty pleased about this.
  • The French attack the English at Orleans and lose badly; they marvel that the English can fight so hard when they seem to be at a disadvantage. Sounds like the English are as scary as Darth Maul. The French even threaten to stop fighting because the English are so fierce.
  • Then the Bastard of Orleans (yes, that's really what he's called in this play) announces he has found Joan Puzel (whom we know as Joan of Arc), and she can help the French because she is holy and has seen visions saying she's ordained to drive the English out.
  • The Bastard claims Joan can see the past and future, so the Dauphin tests Joan's skill in prophecy by having someone else pretend to be him. She passes the test. Then she explains that she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, who told her to help the French armies.
  • Just in case, Charles (the Dauphin or French heir to the throne) also tests Joan by fighting hand to hand. He is amazed at her skill. It's like fighting Qui-Gon Jin or something. And guess what? She attributes her skills to the Virgin Mary.
  • Dauphin asks Joan for a romantic relationship in exaggerated terms of courtly love, and she declines based on her calling to be a prophet and leader, though there's some hint she might be open to the idea later, or at least to some form of reward.
  • As they wait for the French king and Joan, the other nobles hint that there may be a flirtation or some sort of sexual encounter going on. Joan comes out and incites them to war. The Dauphin pours on more exaggerated courtly praise invoking religious and classical precedents, and everyone enthusiastically agrees to fight the English again. It feels like The Return of the Jedi┬áin here.

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