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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 2, scene 5

Synopsis:

Contents

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 5
This short flourish of cornets and shouts within.
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, Emilia, Arcite
in disguise, with a garland, Attendants, and others.


THESEUS, to Arcite 
 You have done worthily. I have not seen,
 Since Hercules, a man of tougher sinews.
 Whate’er you are, you run the best and wrestle
 That these times can allow.
ARCITE 5 I am proud to please you.
THESEUS 
 What country bred you?
ARCITE  This; but far off, prince.
THESEUS 
 Are you a gentleman?
ARCITE  My father said so,
10 And to those gentle uses gave me life.

91
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 5

THESEUS 
 Are you his heir?
ARCITE  His youngest, sir.
THESEUS  Your father,
 Sure, is a happy sire, then. What proves you?
ARCITE 
15 A little of all noble qualities.
 I could have kept a hawk and well have hallowed
 To a deep cry of dogs. I dare not praise
 My feat in horsemanship, yet they that knew me
 Would say it was my best piece. Last, and greatest,
20 I would be thought a soldier.
THESEUS  You are perfect.
PIRITHOUS 
 Upon my soul, a proper man.
EMILIA  He is so.
PIRITHOUS, to Hippolyta 
 How do you like him, lady?
HIPPOLYTA 25 I admire him.
 I have not seen so young a man so noble,
 If he say true, of his sort.
EMILIA  Believe,
 His mother was a wondrous handsome woman;
30 His face, methinks, goes that way.
HIPPOLYTA  But his body
 And fiery mind illustrate a brave father.
PIRITHOUS 
 Mark how his virtue, like a hidden sun,
 Breaks through his baser garments.
HIPPOLYTA 35 He’s well got, sure.
THESEUS, to Arcite 
 What made you seek this place, sir?
ARCITE  Noble Theseus,
 To purchase name and do my ablest service
 To such a well-found wonder as thy worth;

93
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 5

40 For only in thy court, of all the world,
 Dwells fair-eyed Honor.
PIRITHOUS  All his words are worthy.
THESEUS 
 Sir, we are much indebted to your travel,
 Nor shall you lose your wish.—Pirithous,
45 Dispose of this fair gentleman.
PIRITHOUS  Thanks, Theseus.—
 Whate’er you are, you’re mine, and I shall give you
 To a most noble service: to this lady,
 This bright young virgin.
He brings Arcite to Emilia.
50 Pray observe her goodness;
 You have honored her fair birthday with your
 virtues,
 And, as your due, you’re hers. Kiss her fair hand, sir.
ARCITE 
 Sir, you’re a noble giver.—Dearest beauty,
55 Thus let me seal my vowed faith.
He kisses her hand.
 When your servant,
 Your most unworthy creature, but offends you,
 Command him die, he shall.
EMILIA  That were too cruel.
60 If you deserve well, sir, I shall soon see ’t.
 You’re mine, and somewhat better than your rank
 I’ll use you.
PIRITHOUS, to Arcite 
 I’ll see you furnished, and because you say
 You are a horseman, I must needs entreat you
65 This afternoon to ride—but ’tis a rough one.
ARCITE 
 I like him better, prince; I shall not then
 Freeze in my saddle.
THESEUS, to Hippolyta  Sweet, you must be ready,—
 And you, Emilia,—and you, friend,—and all,

95
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 6

70 Tomorrow by the sun, to do observance
 To flowery May in Dian’s wood.—Wait well, sir,
 Upon your mistress.—Emily, I hope
 He shall not go afoot.
EMILIA  That were a shame, sir,
75 While I have horses.—Take your choice, and what
 You want at any time, let me but know it.
 If you serve faithfully, I dare assure you
 You’ll find a loving mistress.
ARCITE  If I do not,
80 Let me find that my father ever hated,
 Disgrace and blows.
THESEUS  Go lead the way; you have won it.
 It shall be so; you shall receive all dues
 Fit for the honor you have won. ’Twere wrong else.—
85 Sister, beshrew my heart, you have a servant
 That, if I were a woman, would be master;
 But you are wise.
EMILIA  I hope too wise for that, sir.
Flourish. They all exit.