Henry VI Part 1: Act 4, Scene 4

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Act 4, scene 4
 
Somerset enters with the reinforcement army that Richard, Duke of York was expecting. He says it is too late to send them now, and blames Richard and Talbot for rashness and too much haste. He adds that he believes Richard plotted to send Talbot into battle to die, so that Richard could take over Talbot’s heroic role.
 
Lucy enters and reports that Talbot and his forces are surrounded by the French. He says Talbot will die unless Somerset saves him by sending his forces. Somerset says that Richard instigated the plan to besiege Bordeaux and it was he who should have sent aid to Talbot. Besides, he adds, he does not respect or like Richard, and so has no wish to send him help. Lucy begs Somerset not to let his private disagreements betray England to the French. Somerset says he will send the reinforcements now, but Lucy says it is too late.
 
Analysis
 
Somerset comes across as less sympathetic than Richard, Duke of York in this episode. Whereas Richard wants to help Talbot and England’s cause, Somerset is motivated by petty private grudges. Somerset’s indifference to Talbot’s possible death in his final speech is particularly shocking. He shows no appreciation for the efforts of the man whom Shakespeare has elevated to the position of national hero.
 
 

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