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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 2, scene 4

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The Two Noble Kinsmen, derived from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, begins as Athens defeats Thebes in war. Arcite and Palamon, Theban knights…

Prologue

The audience is welcomed to the play’s opening performance. The speaker apologizes for its inferiority to Chaucer, whose tale provides…

Act 1, scene 1

The wedding procession of Duke Theseus and his Amazonian bride Hippolyta is interrupted by three weeping queens whose dead kings…

Act 1, scene 2

Two noble cousins, Palamon and Arcite, discuss leaving Thebes, where the reign of their despised uncle Creon has corrupted the…

Act 1, scene 3

Pirithous leaves Athens to join Theseus in Thebes. Hippolyta and Emilia praise the strength of the bond between the two…

Act 1, scene 4

A victorious Theseus bids farewell to the three queens just as Palamon and Arcite are brought in wounded on stretchers….

Act 1, scene 5

The three queens take farewell of each other as the bodies of their dead husbands are carried off for separate…

Act 2, scene 1

The keeper of a jail in Athens discusses the terms of his daughter’s dowry with her wooer. The daughter enters…

Act 2, scene 2

Palamon and Arcite, after lamenting their prospect of lifelong imprisonment, rejoice that they are imprisoned together where nothing can ever…

Act 2, scene 3

Arcite decides he will not leave Athens and Emilia. Countrymen enter talking about their plans to dance at a May…

Act 2, scene 4

The jailer’s daughter, having fallen in love with Palamon, decides to find a way to free him from prison in…

Act 2, scene 5

Arcite, having won the competition disguised as a poor gentleman, is made an attendant upon Emilia. He and the other…

Act 2, scene 6

The jailer’s daughter, having set Palamon free and sent him off to await her in the woods, plans to bring…

Act 3, scene 1

Arcite, now Emilia’s attendant, is confronted by a still-shackled Palamon in the woods where the court is celebrating May Day….

Act 3, scene 2

The jailer’s daughter, unable to find Palamon, fearing that he has been eaten by wild animals and that her father…

Act 3, scene 3

Arcite brings Palamon food, wine, and files. He promises to return in two hours bringing swords and armor for their…

Act 3, scene 4

The jailer’s daughter, convinced that Palamon is dead and that her father will be hanged, begins to hallucinate.

Act 3, scene 5

The countrymen and the schoolmaster gather for the morris dance to be performed for Duke Theseus. When the countrywomen arrive,…

Act 3, scene 6

Arcite arrives in the forest with armor and swords. The two cousins dress each other in armor and prepare as…

Act 4, scene 1

The jailer receives the news that he and his daughter have been pardoned for Palamon’s escape, but that his daughter…

Act 4, scene 2

Emilia examines miniature portraits of Palamon and Arcite and is unable to choose between them. Theseus, hearing descriptions of the…

Act 4, scene 3

The jailer’s daughter is diagnosed by the doctor as suffering from love melancholy. He prescribes that the daughter’s wooer, who…

Act 5, scene 1

In preparation for the coming confrontation, Arcite and his companion knights pray for victory at the altar of Mars; Palamon…

Act 5, scene 2

The doctor observes the jailer’s daughter with the wooer pretending to be Palamon, and declares that she will soon be…

Act 5, scene 3

Emilia listens to the sounds of the combat as first one contestant and then the other seems to be winning….

Act 5, scene 4

As Palamon puts his head on the block for his beheading, word comes that Arcite has been crushed by his…

Epilogue

The speaker bids the audience farewell, hoping that the play has pleased them.

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Scene 4
Enter Jailer’s Daughter, alone.

DAUGHTER 
 Why should I love this gentleman? ’Tis odds
 He never will affect me. I am base,
 My father the mean keeper of his prison,
 And he a prince. To marry him is hopeless;
5 To be his whore is witless. Out upon ’t!
 What pushes are we wenches driven to
 When fifteen once has found us! First, I saw him;
 I, seeing, thought he was a goodly man;
 He has as much to please a woman in him,
10 If he please to bestow it so, as ever
 These eyes yet looked on. Next, I pitied him,
 And so would any young wench, o’ my conscience,
 That ever dreamed, or vowed her maidenhead
 To a young handsome man. Then I loved him,
15 Extremely loved him, infinitely loved him!
 And yet he had a cousin, fair as he too.
 But in my heart was Palamon, and there,
 Lord, what a coil he keeps! To hear him
 Sing in an evening, what a heaven it is!

89
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 5

20 And yet his songs are sad ones. Fairer spoken
 Was never gentleman. When I come in
 To bring him water in a morning, first
 He bows his noble body, then salutes me thus:
 “Fair, gentle maid, good morrow. May thy goodness
25 Get thee a happy husband.” Once he kissed me;
 I loved my lips the better ten days after.
 Would he would do so ev’ry day! He grieves much—
 And me as much to see his misery.
 What should I do to make him know I love him?
30 For I would fain enjoy him. Say I ventured
 To set him free? What says the law then?
 Thus much for law or kindred! I will do it,
 And this night, or tomorrow, he shall love me.
She exits.