Henry V


William Shakespeare

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Henry V: Act 3, Scene 4 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
In the French palace, Katherine asks her lady-in-waiting, Alice, in French, if Alice will give her an English lesson. Alice begins teaching Katherine the English names for the parts of the body. Katherine complains that the words’ ‘foot’ and ‘gown’ have wicked, lewd sounds, but dutifully pronounces them (with a French accent). Alice praises her. They leave for dinner.
Katherine’s difficulty learning English demonstrates the strength of the language barrier between France and England. Her complaint about the words’ wickedness alludes to another difficulty: pronounced in her French accent, the English words ‘foot’ and ‘gown’ sound like actual French curse words, making her speak vulgarly without meaning to.
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