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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 4, scene 3

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 3
Enter Jailer, Wooer, Doctor.

DOCTOR Her distraction is more at some time of the
 moon than at other some, is it not?
JAILER She is continually in a harmless distemper,
 sleeps little, altogether without appetite, save often
5 drinking, dreaming of another world, and a better;
 and what broken piece of matter soe’er she’s about,
 the name Palamon lards it, that she farces ev’ry
 business withal, fits it to every question.

Enter Jailer’s Daughter.

 Look where she comes; you shall perceive her
10 behavior.They stand aside.
DAUGHTER I have forgot it quite. The burden on ’t was
 “down-a down-a,” and penned by no worse man
 than Geraldo, Emilia’s schoolmaster. He’s as fantastical,
 too, as ever he may go upon ’s legs, for in
15 the next world will Dido see Palamon, and then
 will she be out of love with Aeneas.
DOCTOR, aside to Jailer and Wooer What stuff’s here?
 Poor soul.
JAILER E’en thus all day long.
DAUGHTER 20Now for this charm that I told you of, you
 must bring a piece of silver on the tip of your
 tongue, or no ferry; then if it be your chance to
 come where the blessed spirits are, there’s a
 sight now! We maids that have our livers perished,
25 cracked to pieces with love, we shall come there,
 and do nothing all day long but pick flowers with
 Proserpine. Then will I make Palamon a nosegay;
 then let him mark me then.
DOCTOR How prettily she’s amiss! Note her a little
30 further.
DAUGHTER Faith, I’ll tell you, sometime we go to

191
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 3

 barley-break, we of the blessed. Alas, ’tis a sore life
 they have i’ th’ other place—such burning, frying,
 boiling, hissing, howling, chatt’ring, cursing—O,
35 they have shrewd measure, take heed! If one be
 mad, or hang or drown themselves, thither they
 go, Jupiter bless us, and there shall we be put in
 a cauldron of lead and usurers’ grease, amongst a
 whole million of cutpurses, and there boil like a
40 gammon of bacon that will never be enough.
DOCTOR How her brains coins!
DAUGHTER Lords and courtiers that have got maids
 with child, they are in this place. They shall stand
 in fire up to the navel and in ice up to th’ heart, and
45 there th’ offending part burns and the deceiving
 part freezes: in troth, a very grievous punishment,
 as one would think, for such a trifle. Believe me,
 one would marry a leprous witch to be rid on ’t, I’ll
 assure you.
DOCTOR 50How she continues this fancy! ’Tis not an engraffed
 madness, but a most thick and profound
 melancholy.
DAUGHTER To hear there a proud lady and a proud city
 wife howl together—I were a beast an I’d call it
55 good sport. One cries “O this smoke!” th’ other,
 “This fire!”; one cries, “O, that ever I did it behind
 the arras!” and then howls; th’ other curses a suing
 fellow and her garden house.
Sings.
  I will be true, my stars, my fate, etc.
Daughter exits.
JAILER 60What think you of her, sir?
DOCTOR I think she has a perturbed mind, which I
 cannot minister to.
JAILER Alas, what then?
DOCTOR Understand you she ever affected any man
65 ere she beheld Palamon?

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 3

JAILER I was once, sir, in great hope she had fixed her
 liking on this gentleman, my friend.
WOOER I did think so, too, and would account I had a
 great penn’orth on ’t to give half my state that both
70 she and I, at this present, stood unfeignedly on the
 same terms.
DOCTOR That intemp’rate surfeit of her eye hath distempered
 the other senses. They may return and
 settle again to execute their preordained faculties,
75 but they are now in a most extravagant vagary.
 This you must do: confine her to a place where
 the light may rather seem to steal in than be
 permitted.—Take upon you, young sir, her friend,
 the name of Palamon; say you come to eat with
80 her, and to commune of love. This will catch her
 attention, for this her mind beats upon; other
 objects that are inserted ’tween her mind and eye
 become the pranks and friskins of her madness.
 Sing to her such green songs of love as she says
85 Palamon hath sung in prison. Come to her stuck
 in as sweet flowers as the season is mistress of,
 and thereto make an addition of some other compounded
 odors which are grateful to the sense.
 All this shall become Palamon, for Palamon can
90 sing, and Palamon is sweet and ev’ry good thing.
 Desire to eat with her, carve her, drink to her, and
 still among intermingle your petition of grace and
 acceptance into her favor. Learn what maids have
 been her companions and playferes, and let them
95 repair to her with Palamon in their mouths, and
 appear with tokens, as if they suggested for him.—
 It is a falsehood she is in, which is with falsehoods
 to be combated. This may bring her to eat,
 to sleep, and reduce what’s now out of square in
100 her into their former law and regiment. I have seen
 it approved, how many times I know not, but to

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 3

 make the number more, I have great hope in this.
 I will between the passages of this project come
 in with my appliance. Let us put it in execution
105 and hasten the success, which doubt not will bring
 forth comfort.
They exit.