Study Guide

Henry VI Part 2 Act 5, Scene 1

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Act 5, Scene 1

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 2 Act 5 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • York enters with his army and talks about plucking the crown from Henry's head. When he sees Buckingham in the distance, he tells us he'll lie to him and say that he's been sent from the king.
  • York and Buckingham are all, "Hey, how's it goin'"—before Buckingham asks York what he's really doing there.
  • York pretends to be all tired and worn out from his time in Ireland, where he was fighting on the king's behalf. Then he tells Buckingham he's got a problem with Somerset and plans to take it up with the duke directly.
  • Not to worry, then, Buckingham says, because Somerset is already in the Tower as a prisoner. Awesome. York sends all his troops home after hearing this. He tells them to meet him tomorrow at St. George's Field to get paid.
  • To seal the deal, York tells Buckingham that he loves Henry.
  • Buckingham tells York to tell the king himself, because here he is.
  • Henry arrives and asks York what's going on with his troops. York repeats that he's just after Somerset and Cade.
  • Luckily, Iden enters with Cade's head. (There are a lot of heads flying around in this play.)
  • Henry is relieved. He thanks God for his justice, and he makes Iden a knight for killing his enemy.
  • Henry instructs Buckingham to go greet Somerset and Margaret, who are on their way.
  • Huh? York is confused: how can a prisoner who is in the Tower travel around with the queen? Livid, York tells Henry that he's not a fit king and that he doesn't even deserve the crown on his head.
  • Somerset calls York a traitor, Margaret calls in backup (Clifford), and York summons his sons to speak on his behalf.
  • Clifford wants to arrest York and take him to the Tower, but York will not obey.
  • York calls himself king and gets Warwick and Salisbury to come in and support him.
  • When Henry asks Warwick and Salisbury why they won't bow to him, Salisbury says he can't in good conscience serve anyone else after hearing York's claim to the throne. York promises to fight over the crown.
  • There's no better time for name-calling and insult–throwing than right now, so that's exactly what Warwick and Clifford do.
  • Then Clifford's son (imaginatively named Clifford) and York's sons, Richard and Edward, join in on the fun. We are treated to lots of "My dad's better than your dad," and "You'll be in hell by the end of the day."
  • Translation: it's on.

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