Henry V


William Shakespeare

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Henry V: Act 2, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Pistol, Nym, Bardolph, Hostess Quickly and Boy enter, and Pistol calls on the men to be brave because Falstaff is dead “and we must earn therefore.” Hostess Quickly laments Falstaff’s death, vouching for his place in Heaven despite his sins concerning alcohol and women.
Pistol’s use of “earn” plays on two senses of the word: ‘earn’ can mean either ‘make money’ or ‘grieve.’ His instruction to the men appears to carry both meanings. Mistress Quickly’s belief that Falstaff is bound for heaven despite his personal sins recalls Henry’s comment in just the previous scene that it is for God to show the traitors mercy. Falstaff is no traitor—just a man who indulged his pleasures—but here too God is invoked as one who will give Falstaff mercy.
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Literary Devices
As the men depart for the war, Pistol warns Hostess Quickly to guard his possessions, keep her wits about her, and trust nobody. “The world is ‘pitch and pay,’” he tells her, men are faithless and “oaths are straws.”
Pistol warns his wife against the world, which he believes is made up of false appearances and untrustworthy language.
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