Study Guide

King John Act 2, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 2

Read the full text of King John Act 2 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Constance and her son Arthur are standing outside King Philip's tent.
  • Constance is IRATE that King Philip betrayed her and her little boy.
  • Constance keeps asking Salisbury if it's really true that there's going to be a peace treaty and a wedding. He tells her that it is.
  • Enraged, Constance tells Salisbury to scram.
  • When Arthur tells Constance to take a chill pill, she explodes at him.
  • Constance tells Arthur that she wishes he were ugly, because then she wouldn't love him or care if he became king, since being hideous and deformed would be proof that he didn't deserve it.
  • Brain Snack: When Shakespeare wrote this play, babies born with "monstrous" deformities were considered 1) a form of punishment from God and 2) a sign of evil. Go ask Shakespeare's famous "hunchback" Richard III if you don't believe us.
  • After Constance's rant about babies born "ugly," "full of unpleasing blots," "lame, foolish, crooked," and full of "foul moles and eye-offending marks," she turns her attention to Fortune, that fickle goddess who destroys men's lives at the drop of a hat.
  • According to Constance, this lousy turn of events is all Fortune's fault. Actually, she accuses Fortune of being King John's prostitute, which is just her freaky way of saying that Fortune is being unfaithful and disloyal to Arthur.
  • Salisbury tries to interrupt this rant. He's all, "Excuse me, ma'am, but you and I need to go see the kings."
  • Constance refuses to see them and says she's staying right where she is.
  • Then Constance throws herself on the ground and tells us she's so full of grief she needs the earth to prop her up.
  • It doesn't stop there. Constance calls the earth her "throne" and says she'll be sitting in the dirt if anyone wants to come over and talk to her.
  • Hmm. Is it just us or, does Constance sound a little like Richard II when he finds out he's about to lose his crown to another guy: "For God's sake let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings" (3.2.9)?