Study Guide

Rebels: Dick the Butcher, Smith the Weaver, John Holland, George Bevis, Michael, and Crew in Henry VI Part 2

By William Shakespeare

Rebels: Dick the Butcher, Smith the Weaver, John Holland, George Bevis, Michael, and Crew

Look out, folks, because the peanut gallery's armed itself with some serious swords.

The rebels are Cade's posse. What we really appreciate about this motley crew is how they provide a constant stream of jokes and jabs at this would-be leader: they know he's not royalty like he claims to be, and they don't mind telling us. Repeatedly.

But the fun and games take a serious turn all too quickly. The gang follows Cade when he makes a play at taking over the world. They help kill Lord Stafford, his brother, and Lord Saye, among others; a lot of blood gets spilled during this rebellion. It's like the gang is just taking personal revenge on anyone who gets in their way.

Hmm, that sounds familiar, doesn't it? It's the same thing some of the nastier nobles are doing.

Cade tells the guys that they're fighting for education and equal rights, but a lot of the time, it seems like these guys are more interested in just getting unlimited beer and women. As Cade finds out, the problem isn't just nobles vs. common people. There are huge problems on both sides.

Another huge problem is that the rebels are easily swayed. All it takes is a fancy speech from Buckingham and Clifford to make the rebels go back to the king's side; Cade realizes pretty quickly that these guys will pretty much just follow whoever yells the loudest. That's a complex problem: because these guys aren't educated, it's almost like they don't really know better. How can they fight for what's best for them if they don't even know what's best for them?

And let's not even get started on the problems with mob mentality; we'll just say that Shakespeare is pretty skeptical of the decision-making abilities of massive crowds of people.

A lot of crazy stuff gets unleashed by the characters in this play, and the rebels are right in the thick of it.

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