List iconKing John:
Act 3, scene 4
List icon

King John
Act 3, scene 4



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The events in King John take place in the thirteenth century, well before Shakespeare’s other English history plays. After the death of…

Act 1, scene 1

John, King of England, is told by a messenger from the King of France that the territories held by John…

Act 2, scene 1

King Philip of France and the Duke of Austria, on behalf of Arthur, begin to lay siege to the city…

Act 3, scene 1

The league between John and Philip is attacked first by Constance, who accuses Philip of treacherously betraying Arthur’s cause, and…

Act 3, scene 2

The Bastard, having killed the Duke of Austria, reports that he has rescued Queen Eleanor. Arthur, captured by John, is…

Act 3, scene 3

John prepares to leave for England with his forces. He tells Hubert that Arthur must die. Hubert promises to kill…

Act 3, scene 4

John’s victories and his capture of Arthur lead the French to despair and Constance to wild grief. Pandulph, predicting Arthur’s…

Act 4, scene 1

Hubert prepares to put out Arthur’s eyes with hot irons. Arthur begs him to show mercy. Hubert plans to tell…

Act 4, scene 2

The nobles express their disapproval of John’s second coronation and urge that he set Arthur free. When Hubert brings word…

Act 4, scene 3

Arthur dies as he attempts to leap from the prison wall. The Bastard reaches the nobles, on their way to…

Act 5, scene 1

King John submits his royal power to the Pope in exchange for Pandulph’s intercession against the French forces. The Bastard…

Act 5, scene 2

The rebellious English nobles swear to support the Dauphin in his attack on England. Pandulph tells the Dauphin to take…

Act 5, scene 3

King John, sick with a fever, is instructed by the Bastard to leave the battle. John receives the good news…

Act 5, scene 4

While the English army continues to fight successfully under the Bastard, the rebel English nobles learn from the wounded French…

Act 5, scene 5

The Dauphin rejoices that his forces have almost defeated the English. He then learns that Count Melun has died, that…

Act 5, scene 6

Hubert brings news to the Bastard that King John has been poisoned by a monk, and that, at the urging…

Act 5, scene 7

As King John lies dying, surrounded by his newly loyal nobles and his son, Prince Henry, the Bastard brings him…

Include links to:

Quill icon
Scene 4
Enter King Philip of France,Louis the Dauphin,
Pandulph, Attendants.

 So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,
 A whole armada of convicted sail
 Is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.
 Courage and comfort. All shall yet go well.
5 What can go well when we have run so ill?
 Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?
 Arthur ta’en prisoner? Divers dear friends slain?
 And bloody England into England gone,
 O’erbearing interruption, spite of France?
10 What he hath won, that hath he fortified.
 So hot a speed, with such advice disposed,
 Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,
 Doth want example. Who hath read or heard
 Of any kindred action like to this?
15 Well could I bear that England had this praise,
 So we could find some pattern of our shame.

Enter Constance, with her hair unbound.

King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Look who comes here! A grave unto a soul,
 Holding th’ eternal spirit against her will
 In the vile prison of afflicted breath.—
20 I prithee, lady, go away with me.
 Lo, now, now see the issue of your peace!
 Patience, good lady. Comfort, gentle Constance.
 No, I defy all counsel, all redress,
 But that which ends all counsel, true redress.
25 Death, death, O amiable, lovely death,
 Thou odoriferous stench, sound rottenness,
 Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
 Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
 And I will kiss thy detestable bones
30 And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows,
 And ring these fingers with thy household worms,
 And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
 And be a carrion monster like thyself.
 Come, grin on me, and I will think thou smil’st,
35 And buss thee as thy wife. Misery’s love,
 O, come to me!
KING PHILIP  O fair affliction, peace!
 No, no, I will not, having breath to cry.
 O, that my tongue were in the thunder’s mouth!
40 Then with a passion would I shake the world
 And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy
 Which cannot hear a lady’s feeble voice,
 Which scorns a modern invocation.
 Lady, you utter madness and not sorrow.
45 Thou art not holy to belie me so.
 I am not mad. This hair I tear is mine;

King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 My name is Constance; I was Geoffrey’s wife;
 Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost.
 I am not mad; I would to heaven I were,
50 For then ’tis like I should forget myself.
 O, if I could, what grief should I forget!
 Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
 And thou shalt be canonized, cardinal.
 For, being not mad but sensible of grief,
55 My reasonable part produces reason
 How I may be delivered of these woes,
 And teaches me to kill or hang myself.
 If I were mad, I should forget my son,
 Or madly think a babe of clouts were he.
60 I am not mad. Too well, too well I feel
 The different plague of each calamity.
 Bind up those tresses.—O, what love I note
 In the fair multitude of those her hairs;
 Where but by chance a silver drop hath fall’n,
65 Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends
 Do glue themselves in sociable grief,
 Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
 Sticking together in calamity.
 To England, if you will.
KING PHILIP 70 Bind up your hairs.
 Yes, that I will. And wherefore will I do it?
 I tore them from their bonds and cried aloud
 “O, that these hands could so redeem my son,
 As they have given these hairs their liberty!”
75 But now I envy at their liberty,
 And will again commit them to their bonds,
 Because my poor child is a prisoner.
She binds up her hair.

King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 And father cardinal, I have heard you say
 That we shall see and know our friends in heaven.
80 If that be true, I shall see my boy again;
 For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
 To him that did but yesterday suspire,
 There was not such a gracious creature born.
 But now will canker sorrow eat my bud
85 And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
 And he will look as hollow as a ghost,
 As dim and meager as an ague’s fit,
 And so he’ll die; and, rising so again,
 When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
90 I shall not know him. Therefore never, never
 Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
 You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
 He talks to me that never had a son.
 You are as fond of grief as of your child.
95 Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
 Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
 Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
 Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
 Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
100 Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
 Fare you well. Had you such a loss as I,
 I could give better comfort than you do.
She unbinds her hair.
 I will not keep this form upon my head
 When there is such disorder in my wit.
105 O Lord! My boy, my Arthur, my fair son,
 My life, my joy, my food, my all the world,
 My widow-comfort and my sorrows’ cure!She exits.

King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 I fear some outrage, and I’ll follow her.
He exits, with Attendants.
 There’s nothing in this world can make me joy.
110 Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
 Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man;
 And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet world’s
 That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.
115 Before the curing of a strong disease,
 Even in the instant of repair and health,
 The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave
 On their departure most of all show evil.
 What have you lost by losing of this day?
120 All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
 If you had won it, certainly you had.
 No, no. When Fortune means to men most good,
 She looks upon them with a threat’ning eye.
 ’Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost
125 In this which he accounts so clearly won.
 Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?
 As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
 Your mind is all as youthful as your blood.
 Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit.
130 For even the breath of what I mean to speak
 Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub,
 Out of the path which shall directly lead
 Thy foot to England’s throne. And therefore mark:
 John hath seized Arthur, and it cannot be
135 That, whiles warm life plays in that infant’s veins,

King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 The misplaced John should entertain an hour,
 One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest.
 A scepter snatched with an unruly hand
 Must be as boisterously maintained as gained.
140 And he that stands upon a slipp’ry place
 Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.
 That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall.
 So be it, for it cannot be but so.
 But what shall I gain by young Arthur’s fall?
145 You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife,
 May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
 And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
 How green you are and fresh in this old world!
 John lays you plots. The times conspire with you,
150 For he that steeps his safety in true blood
 Shall find but bloody safety, and untrue.
 This act so evilly borne shall cool the hearts
 Of all his people and freeze up their zeal,
 That none so small advantage shall step forth
155 To check his reign but they will cherish it.
 No natural exhalation in the sky,
 No scope of nature, no distempered day,
 No common wind, no customèd event,
 But they will pluck away his natural cause
160 And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs,
 Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven,
 Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
 Maybe he will not touch young Arthur’s life,
 But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
165 O, sir, when he shall hear of your approach,

King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 If that young Arthur be not gone already,
 Even at that news he dies; and then the hearts
 Of all his people shall revolt from him
 And kiss the lips of unacquainted change,
170 And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath
 Out of the bloody fingers’ ends of John.
 Methinks I see this hurly all on foot;
 And, O, what better matter breeds for you
 Than I have named! The bastard Faulconbridge
175 Is now in England ransacking the Church,
 Offending charity. If but a dozen French
 Were there in arms, they would be as a call
 To train ten thousand English to their side,
 Or as a little snow, tumbled about,
180 Anon becomes a mountain. O noble dauphin,
 Go with me to the King. ’Tis wonderful
 What may be wrought out of their discontent,
 Now that their souls are topful of offense.
 For England, go. I will whet on the King.
185 Strong reasons makes strange actions. Let us go.
 If you say ay, the King will not say no.
They exit.