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Summary Act 2

SCENE 1

A French sergeant orders a sentinel to keep a sharp lookout. The sentinel agrees to do so, but in private he holds a grudge against the sergeant and other officers who retire for the night while the sentinel and other lowly soldiers like him must endure the cold, the darkness, and the rain and keep watch. Meanwhile, the English, led by Lord Talbot and the Dukes Bedford and Burgundy, secretly assault the city that they have lost, taking advantage of the fact that the French have let their guards down on the heels of a celebration victory. Subsequently, the French are driven out of the city. Dauphin Charles blames Joan La Pucelle for the loss of the city, but Pucelle rightfully argues that the blame could not be hers for she was asleep when the English made their covert assault. Moreover she asserts that thing to do now is to gather themselves and to attack the English anew. Presently, an English soldier warns of Talbot’s approach, frightening a number of French soldiers to flee while leaving their clothes behind. The soldier collects the clothing, asserting that the scam works every time, so fearful of Talbot are the French.

SCENE 2

With dawn approaching, Bedford orders the English pursuit of the French to cease. Talbot orders Salisbury’s body to be brought to the center of the city, and there he vows to build a tomb memorializing Salisbury’s reign of terror so as to fix it in the collective French mind. Burgundy is testifying that he may have seen Pucelle evacuate the city arm-in-arm with Dauphin Charles when a messenger arrives with a message for Talbot. The French Countess of Auvergne would like to meet with Lord Talbot. She would be honored if Talbot obliges. Talbot agrees to meet with the Countess. But before he goes, Talbot secretly confides in one of his captains.

SCENE 3

Instructing her porter on a stratagem, the Countess of Auvergne sees herself singlehandedly vanquishing Lord Talbot as the Scythian Tomyris had vanquished Cyrus. However, when Talbot arrives, she is incredulous that Talbot is so slight of frame, compelling Talbot to excuse himself and to return as his true self. When Talbot returns and avows that he is indeed Lord Talbot whom the French fear as if he was the devil himself, the Countess claims Talbot as her prisoner and thereby ridding France of its scourge. Talbot laughs and when asked what he finds so funny, he replies that only a part of him is present. By and by, Talbot gives the signal which summons his soldiers. Thus accompanied by his men, Talbot explains to the Countess that he is now the Lord Talbot in full. The Countess apologizes, but Talbot assures her that she has not offended him. He does request, however, that she allow her men to partake of her wine and victuals. She graciously consents.

SCENE 4

Richard Plantagenet and the Duke of Somerset have repaired to a garden—away from the crowd—to settle a legal dispute between them. When asked who is in the right, the Earl of Warwick confesses that legal issues are beyond his comprehension. Still, Warwick shows where his loyalties lie when he plucks off a white rose, following Plantagenet’s example. Opposing them is the Earl of Suffolk, aka William de la Pole, who plucks off a red rose, following Somerset’s example. Presently, the opposing sides argue, Somerset asserting that Plantagenet is a yeoman on account of his father, the traitor; while Plantagenet asserts that he deserves to be titled York on account of his lineage which derives from King Edward III. Eventually Somerset and Suffolk depart from the scene on the heels of which Vernon and a lawyer each plucks off a white rose, aligning themselves with Plantagenet.

SCENE 5

Edmund Mortimer, who has spent the better part of his life imprisoned since the rise of the Lancasters, is assured by his jailer that his nephew Richard Plantagenet is on his way to meet with him. By and by, uncle and nephew meet, and the uncle relates unto the nephew the story of Mortimer’s imprisonment which is directly related to the execution of Plantagenet’s father Richard Earl of Cambridge. Mortimer relates that when Richard II was killed, Mortimer was next in line to ascend the throne. The Lancasters, however, made sure that that would not happen, imprisoning Mortimer and having Plantagenet’s father Richard Earl of Cambridge, who was endeavoring to put Mortimer in the throne, executed for treason. Having related the story, Mortimer dies of old age and of the cumulated privations he has suffered hitherto in prison. Subsequently, Plantagenet vows to have his family name restored to its former glory.

William Shakespeare