Study Guide

Henry VI Part 2 Act 3, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 2

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 2 Act 3 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Two murderers discuss knocking Gloucester off. One of them feels bad about what they've done; the other just wants to get the news to Suffolk that his order has been fulfilled.
  • Suffolk enters and asks the men if they've gone through with the murder. Yep, just as instructed. The men are all patting themselves on the back, and Suffolk tells the murderers to go to his house to get paid.
  • Luckily, the murderers leave right then, because Henry, Margaret, and some nobles come on stage. Henry announces that Gloucester will have a fair trial, and Margaret outwardly supports that.
  • Suffolk goes out to get Gloucester, but when he returns, he has grave news. Gloucester has been murdered. Um, gasp.
  • Of course, this isn't news to Suffolk and Margaret, but they both pretend to be shocked. Henry is actually shocked: he faints over the news. Everything happens pretty quickly, because Margaret is worried about Henry and calls for help again and again.
  • Suffolk tries to help, but Henry suddenly accuses him of being fake. He hated Gloucester, but now he mourns when he's dead? That's not cool, says Henry.
  • Before Suffolk can even respond, Margaret jumps in and defends him. Look how Christian he is: he didn't even like Gloucester, and here he is mourning the guy's death. Well, that's one way to spin it, we guess.
  • Plus, like any good wife, Margaret's worried about herself. What will the people think of her now that Gloucester is dead? She's worried that since she openly didn't like Gloucester, people will think—get this—that she had something to do with his death. (Of course she did—she helped Suffolk plan it. She just doesn't want people thinking she had anything to do with it.)
  • Henry doesn't seem to notice his wife's musings; he just goes on lamenting Gloucester.
  • At the sight of this, Margaret delivers a long speech about how unfair this is. Henry is grieving for Gloucester instead of focusing on his wife's worries and feelings. She shouldn't have come to England during such a troubling time. Suffolk told her about a great and mighty king, and all she sees is… Henry. Ouch.
  • Margaret claims she'd rather die than live in England, where her own husband doesn't even care about her.
  • There's no time to deal with any of this, because Warwick comes in with news from the commoners. They've heard that Gloucester was murdered by Suffolk and Cardinal Beaufort.
  • Henry confirms that Gloucester is dead, but he doesn't know how it happened. Henry suggests that Warwick look at the body to figure out what happened. As Warwick and Salisbury go to get the body, Henry reports that he believes Gloucester died violently. Uh oh.
  • Seeing the body, Beaufort makes a quick exit. Regretting his murder plot, perhaps?
  • The men are back with the body. Trying to be a good CSI agent, Warwick points out that Gloucester's eyeballs are big, and his face looks like he was staring at someone when he died.
  • Surprise, surprise: Gloucester seems to have been murdered.
  • But Suffolk disagrees: how could Gloucester have been murdered while he and Cardinal Beaufort were protecting him?
  • Warwick points out that both men hated Gloucester, so it's not a big jump to think that they wouldn't have treated Gloucester like a friend.
  • Margaret gets into a confrontation with Warwick, asking just what he's getting at.
  • Everyone knows exactly what Warwick is suggesting, but Warwick himself claims that he's just pointing out facts. Don't blame the messenger, or something like that.
  • Suffolk dares Warwick to accuse him and not be a chicken about it. Baited like this, Warwick goes ahead and accuses Suffolk. A fight ensues, and the two men leave, only to return with their weapons drawn.
  • Suffolk tells Henry that Warwick has set the commoners against him. Salisbury enters and tells Henry the commoners will destroy him if Suffolk is not killed. The commoners think that Suffolk killed Gloucester and that he wants to hurt the king. Well, they're not too far off base.
  • Henry has to decide—now. The commoners are shouting for him to answer. He does. and it's not good news for Suffolk, who will now be banished.
  • Margaret protests on Suffolk's behalf, but Henry tells her it's of no use and leaves.
  • Only Margaret and Suffolk are together on stage. They play the blame game and hate their enemies for putting them in this situation.
  • Then talk turns to the banishment. Margaret promises she'll get Suffolk returned to England.
  • Suffolk knows he could be wherever Margaret is, and she'd rather die than say good-bye to him. Aww. It's all very sweet for scheming murderers.
  • During this heartfelt goodbye, a messenger enters with news that Cardinal Beaufort is close to death and is crying out for the king. Margaret sends the messenger off to the king, and she and Suffolk exchange a few more romantic comments. They say again that they can't bear to live without each other.
  • Finally, Margaret and Suffolk part, and she tells him to send her news of what he's doing once he's out of England.
  • Margaret kisses Suffolk. They promise to keep each other in their hearts before walking in opposite directions.

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