Study Guide

Henry VI Part 2 Act 1, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scene 4

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 2 Act 1 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Over at Gloucester's, Hume brings a witch (Margery Jourdain) and a conjurer (Bolingbroke) for Eleanor. They all agree she should watch their work with Hume looking down on the whole thing. Eleanor agrees and asks them to get on with it.
  • Bolingbroke begins the ceremony by reading a chant. Everyone stands in a circle, and there is thunder and lightning.
  • A spirit enters and says he will answer their questions; Bolingbroke will write down each response.
  • First up, Bolingbroke asks about Henry. The spirit says a duke will depose Henry but will die a violent death. Oh, and did he mention that that very duke is already alive?
  • Next question: What's going to happen to Suffolk? Answer: He'll die by water.
  • Final question: What will happen to Somerset? Answer: He should stay away from castles.
  • With that, the spirit calls it quits with the Q&A and heads back into the darkness, with thunder and lightning signaling his departure.
  • Just then, York and Buckingham break in and see what's going down. To their (fake) shock and horror, they see dangerous things (witches and conjurers). They arrest everyone, but Eleanor's not worried—she's the Protector's wife, after all, so she'll be protected.
  • Nevertheless, Buckingham orders Eleanor's arrest, and she's taken away.
  • York and Buckingham read what Bolingbroke wrote down. York claims the oracles are hard to understand. Buckingham goes to tell Henry what just happened, and York tells a servant to invite Salisbury and Warwick over to dinner.

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