Study Guide

Henry VI Part 3 Act 1, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 4

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 3 Act 1 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • York delivers a soliloquy on the battlefield. He's proud of how hard his men fought, but it just wasn't their day. Margaret's army was bigger and better, and now they've got him surrounded.
  • Just then, Margaret, Clifford, Northumberland, and Prince Edward enter. York knows they've got something terrible in store for him, but he refuses to give in; he will rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
  • Clifford says that's cute, but they've got something better planned. He, Northumberland, and York fight, and Clifford is ready to finish York off, but Margaret has other ideas.
  • Margaret delivers a long speech about York wanting to be king. She mocks him and asks him where his son Rutland is. Oh, that's right. Did she not mention that he died? She waves a handkerchief dipped in Rutland's blood up in York's face. Um, yeah—not so nice.
  • When York doesn't cry over his dead son, Margaret thinks he's messing with them. She claims that York is deliberately not speaking until he's got a crown on his head. Her solution? She puts a paper crown on his head. Look at England's king!
  • Margaret reminds York that his deal with Henry was only good as long as he didn't fight to win the crown before Henry died. Oops. Looks like he broke that deal.
  • York finally responds by saying how unnatural it is for a woman to lead an army. He calls Margaret a "she-wolf" and "Amazonian trull" (prostitute) with a "poison" tongue.
  • Then York launches into a speech about how women are "soft, mild, pitiful and flexible" and about how Margaret's nothing like what a woman should be; she's more of a tiger disguised as a woman. He calls her a cannibal for pushing his son's blood in his face.
  • Northumberland is moved by the whole thing and wants to "weep," but Margaret and Clifford don't show an ounce of remorse.
  • Margaret and Clifford take turns stabbing York until he does. Then Margaret orders for his dead body to be put up on the city gates for all to see.

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