Richard II: Novel Summary: Act 5 Scene 6

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Act 5 Scene 6
At Windsor Castle, the king reports that the rebels have burnt the town of Cicester in Gloucestershire. Northumberland enters and reports that he has had four rebel leaders executed, and their heads sent to London. Fitzwater enters and reports that two of the traitors who conspired against the king at Oxford have been executed. The king thanks them both. Then Percy enters with Carlisle as prisoner. Percy reports that the Abbot of Westminster, one of the chief conspirators, has been executed, while Carlisle awaits the sentence of the king. The king pardons Carlisle because he has seen some honor in him.
Exton enters with the coffin of Richard. Henry rebukes him for his act, and when Exton protests that Henry told him to do it, Henry replies that even though he wanted Richard dead, he nonetheless hates the murderer. He brands Exton as Cain and refuses to give him any royal favor. He then announces that to wash the guilt from his hands, he will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Analysis
This scene further emphasizes how Henry's new reign begins with bloodshed. Carlisle's warning of civil war (given in Act 4, scene 1) are already coming true. However, Shakespeare takes another opportunity to show the new king behaving with magnanimity. Just as Henry had pardoned Aumerle, he now pardons Carlisle, who had protested at the overthrow of Richard and joined the plot against him. The implication is that Henry IV will make a tough but fair king.

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