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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 5, scene 2



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…


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…


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

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Scene 2
Enter Doctor, Jailer, and Wooer in
the habit of Palamon.

 Has this advice I told you done any good upon her?
 O, very much. The maids that kept her company
 Have half-persuaded her that I am Palamon;
 Within this half-hour she came smiling to me,

The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

5 And asked me what I would eat, and when I would
 kiss her.
 I told her “Presently,” and kissed her twice.
 ’Twas well done; twenty times had been far better,
 For there the cure lies mainly.
WOOER 10 Then she told me
 She would watch with me tonight, for well she knew
 What hour my fit would take me.
DOCTOR  Let her do so,
 And when your fit comes, fit her home,
15 And presently.
WOOER  She would have me sing.
 You did so?
DOCTOR  ’Twas very ill done, then.
20 You should observe her ev’ry way.
WOOER  Alas,
 I have no voice, sir, to confirm her that way.
 That’s all one, if you make a noise.
 If she entreat again, do anything.
25 Lie with her, if she ask you.
JAILER  Ho there, doctor!
 Yes, in the way of cure.
JAILER  But first, by your leave,
 I’ th’ way of honesty.
DOCTOR 30 That’s but a niceness.
 Ne’er cast your child away for honesty.
 Cure her first this way; then if she will be honest,
 She has the path before her.
 Thank you, doctor.

The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

DOCTOR 35 Pray bring her in
 And let’s see how she is.
JAILER  I will, and tell her
 Her Palamon stays for her. But, doctor,
 Methinks you are i’ th’ wrong still.Jailer exits.
DOCTOR 40 Go, go.
 You fathers are fine fools. Her honesty?
 And we should give her physic till we find that!
 Why, do you think she is not honest, sir?
 How old is she?
WOOER 45 She’s eighteen.
DOCTOR  She may be.
 But that’s all one; ’tis nothing to our purpose.
 Whate’er her father says, if you perceive
 Her mood inclining that way that I spoke of,
50 Videlicet, the way of flesh—you have me?
 Yes, very well, sir.
DOCTOR  Please her appetite,
 And do it home; it cures her, ipso facto,
 The melancholy humor that infects her.
55 I am of your mind, doctor.
DOCTOR  You’ll find it so.

Enter Jailer, Daughter, and Maid.

 She comes; pray humor her.
Wooer and Doctor stand aside.
JAILER, to Daughter 
 Come, your love Palamon stays for you, child,
 And has done this long hour, to visit you.
60 I thank him for his gentle patience.

The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

 He’s a kind gentleman, and I am much bound to
 Did you ne’er see the horse he gave me?
65 How do you like him?
JAILER  He’s a very fair one.
 You never saw him dance?
DAUGHTER  I have, often.
70 He dances very finely, very comely,
 And for a jig, come cut and long tail to him,
 He turns you like a top.
JAILER  That’s fine indeed.
 He’ll dance the morris twenty mile an hour,
75 And that will founder the best hobbyhorse,
 If I have any skill, in all the parish,
 And gallops to the tune of Light o’ love.
 What think you of this horse?
JAILER  Having these virtues,
80 I think he might be brought to play at tennis.
 Alas, that’s nothing.
JAILER  Can he write and read too?
 A very fair hand, and casts himself th’ accounts
 Of all his hay and provender. That hostler
85 Must rise betime that cozens him. You know
 The chestnut mare the Duke has?
JAILER  Very well.
 She is horribly in love with him, poor beast,
 But he is like his master, coy and scornful.

The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

90 What dowry has she?
DAUGHTER  Some two hundred bottles,
 And twenty strike of oats, but he’ll ne’er have her.
 He lisps in ’s neighing able to entice
 A miller’s mare. He’ll be the death of her.
DOCTOR, aside 95What stuff she utters!

Wooer and Doctor come forward.

 Make curtsy; here your love comes.
WOOER  Pretty soul,
 How do you?Daughter curtsies.
 That’s a fine maid; there’s a curtsy!
100 Yours to command i’ th’ way of honesty.—
 How far is ’t now to th’ end o’ th’ world, my masters?
 Why, a day’s journey, wench.
DAUGHTER, to Wooer  Will you go with me?
 What shall we do there, wench?
DAUGHTER 105 Why, play at
 What is there else to do?
WOOER  I am content,
 If we shall keep our wedding there.
DAUGHTER 110 ’Tis true,
 For there, I will assure you, we shall find
 Some blind priest for the purpose, that will venture
 To marry us; for here they are nice and foolish.
 Besides, my father must be hanged tomorrow,
115 And that would be a blot i’ th’ business.
 Are not you Palamon?
WOOER  Do not you know me?

The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Yes, but you care not for me; I have nothing
 But this poor petticoat and two coarse smocks.
120 That’s all one; I will have you.
DAUGHTER  Will you surely?
WOOER, taking her hand 
 Yes, by this fair hand, will I.
DAUGHTER  We’ll to bed then.
 E’en when you will.He kisses her.
DAUGHTER, wiping her face 125 O , sir, you would fain
 be nibbling.
 Why do you rub my kiss off?
DAUGHTER  ’Tis a sweet one,
 And will perfume me finely against the wedding.
130 Is not this your cousin Arcite?She indicates Doctor.
DOCTOR  Yes, sweetheart,
 And I am glad my cousin Palamon
 Has made so fair a choice.
DAUGHTER  Do you think he’ll have me?
135 Yes, without doubt.
DAUGHTER, to Jailer  Do you think so too?
 We shall have many children. (To Doctor.) Lord,
 how you’re grown!
140 My Palamon, I hope, will grow too, finely,
 Now he’s at liberty. Alas, poor chicken,
 He was kept down with hard meat and ill lodging,
 But I’ll kiss him up again.

Enter a Messenger.

The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

 What do you here? You’ll lose the noblest sight
145 That e’er was seen.
JAILER  Are they i’ th’ field?
MESSENGER  They are.
 You bear a charge there too.
JAILER  I’ll away straight.—
150 I must e’en leave you here.
DOCTOR  Nay, we’ll go with you.
 I will not lose the sight.
JAILER, aside to Doctor  How did you like her?
 I’ll warrant you, within these three or four days
155 I’ll make her right again.Jailer and Messenger exit.
(To Wooer.)  You must not from her,
 But still preserve her in this way.
WOOER  I will.
 Let’s get her in.
WOOER 160 Come, sweet, we’ll go to dinner
 And then we’ll play at cards.
DAUGHTER  And shall we kiss too?
 A hundred times.
DAUGHTER  And twenty.
WOOER 165 Ay, and twenty.
 And then we’ll sleep together.
DOCTOR, to Wooer  Take her offer.
 Yes, marry, will we.
DAUGHTER  But you shall not hurt me.
170 I will not, sweet.
DAUGHTER  If you do, love, I’ll cry.
They exit.