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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 3, scene 2

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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 2
Enter Jailer’s Daughter, alone.

DAUGHTER 
 He has mistook the brake I meant, is gone
 After his fancy. ’Tis now well-nigh morning.
 No matter; would it were perpetual night,
 And darkness lord o’ th’ world. Hark, ’tis a wolf!
5 In me hath grief slain fear, and but for one thing,
 I care for nothing, and that’s Palamon.
 I reck not if the wolves would jaw me, so

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 2

 He had this file. What if I hallowed for him?
 I cannot hallow. If I whooped, what then?
10 If he not answered, I should call a wolf,
 And do him but that service. I have heard
 Strange howls this livelong night; why may ’t not be
 They have made prey of him? He has no weapons;
 He cannot run; the jingling of his gyves
15 Might call fell things to listen, who have in them
 A sense to know a man unarmed and can
 Smell where resistance is. I’ll set it down
 He’s torn to pieces; they howled many together,
 And then they fed on him; so much for that.
20 Be bold to ring the bell. How stand I then?
 All’s chared when he is gone. No, no, I lie.
 My father’s to be hanged for his escape;
 Myself to beg, if I prized life so much
 As to deny my act, but that I would not,
25 Should I try death by dozens. I am moped;
 Food took I none these two days;
 Sipped some water. I have not closed mine eyes
 Save when my lids scoured off their brine. Alas,
 Dissolve, my life! Let not my sense unsettle,
30 Lest I should drown, or stab, or hang myself.
 O state of nature, fail together in me,
 Since thy best props are warped! So, which way now?
 The best way is the next way to a grave;
 Each errant step beside is torment. Lo,
35 The moon is down, the crickets chirp, the screech
 owl
 Calls in the dawn. All offices are done
 Save what I fail in. But the point is this—
 An end, and that is all.
She exits.