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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 3, scene 3

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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 3
Enter Arcite with meat, wine, and files.

ARCITE 
 I should be near the place.—Ho! Cousin Palamon!
PALAMON, within 
 Arcite?
ARCITE  The same. I have brought you food and files.
 Come forth and fear not; here’s no Theseus.

Enter Palamon.

PALAMON 
5 Nor none so honest, Arcite.
ARCITE  That’s no matter.
 We’ll argue that hereafter. Come, take courage;
 You shall not die thus beastly. Here, sir, drink—
 I know you are faint—then I’ll talk further with you.
PALAMON 
10 Arcite, thou mightst now poison me.
ARCITE  I might;
 But I must fear you first. Sit down and, good now,
 No more of these vain parleys. Let us not,
 Having our ancient reputation with us,
15 Make talk for fools and cowards. To your health.
He drinks.
PALAMON Do!
ARCITE 
 Pray sit down, then, and let me entreat you,
 By all the honesty and honor in you,
 No mention of this woman; ’twill disturb us.
20 We shall have time enough.
PALAMON  Well, sir, I’ll pledge you.
He drinks.

115
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 3

ARCITE 
 Drink a good hearty draught; it breeds good blood,
 man.
 Do not you feel it thaw you?
PALAMON 25 Stay, I’ll tell you
 After a draught or two more.
ARCITE  Spare it not.
 The Duke has more, coz. Eat now.
PALAMON  Yes.He eats.
ARCITE 30 I am glad
 You have so good a stomach.
PALAMON  I am gladder
 I have so good meat to ’t.
ARCITE  Is ’t not mad lodging
35 Here in the wild woods, cousin?
PALAMON  Yes, for them
 That have wild consciences.
ARCITE  How tastes your
 victuals?
40 Your hunger needs no sauce, I see.
PALAMON  Not much.
 But if it did, yours is too tart, sweet cousin.
 What is this?
ARCITE  Venison.
PALAMON 45 ’Tis a lusty meat.
 Give me more wine. Here, Arcite, to the wenches
 We have known in our days!
He raises his cup in a toast.
 The Lord Steward’s
 daughter!
50 Do you remember her?
ARCITE  After you, coz.
PALAMON 
 She loved a black-haired man.
ARCITE  She did so; well, sir?

117
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 3

PALAMON 
 And I have heard some call him Arcite, and—
ARCITE 
55 Out with ’t, faith.
PALAMON  She met him in an arbor.
 What did she there, coz? Play o’ th’ virginals?
ARCITE 
 Something she did, sir.
PALAMON  Made her groan a month
60 for ’t—
 Or two, or three, or ten.
ARCITE  The Marshal’s sister
 Had her share, too, as I remember, cousin,
 Else there be tales abroad. You’ll pledge her?
PALAMON 65 Yes.
He lifts his cup and then drinks.
ARCITE 
 A pretty brown wench ’tis. There was a time
 When young men went a-hunting, and a wood,
 And a broad beech—and thereby hangs a tale.
 Heigh ho!
PALAMON 70 For Emily, upon my life! Fool,
 Away with this strained mirth. I say again
 That sigh was breathed for Emily. Base cousin,
 Dar’st thou break first?
ARCITE  You are wide.
PALAMON 75 By heaven and
 Earth,
 There’s nothing in thee honest.
ARCITE  Then I’ll leave you.
 You are a beast now.
PALAMON 80 As thou mak’st me, traitor.
ARCITE 
 There’s all things needful: files and shirts and
 perfumes.

119
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 4

 I’ll come again some two hours hence and bring
 That that shall quiet all.
PALAMON 85 A sword and armor.
ARCITE 
 Fear me not. You are now too foul. Farewell.
 Get off your trinkets; you shall want naught.
PALAMON  Sirrah—
ARCITE 
 I’ll hear no more.
He exits.
PALAMON 90 If he keep touch, he dies for ’t.
He exits.