The Second Shepherd’s Play



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The Second Shepherd’s Play: Scene 2 Summary & Analysis

Pounding on the door to his shack, Mak calls out for his wife, Gill, to undo the latch. Gill is annoyed by the middle-of-the-night interruption, claiming she can’t make any money since she is “Always pestered,” but she lets her husband in anyway. When Mak proudly brandishes the stolen sheep, Gill sternly reminds Mak that theft is punishable by hanging. Mak waves off her comments, confidently asserting that he can provide better for his family by stealing than by working.
Although Mak has made Gill out to be a nag, Gill’s comment about being “Always pestered” shows the henpecking goes both ways, and that their marriage is characterized by constant bickering. Gill’s reminder to Mak that stealing sheep is punishable by hanging reveals her to be more levelheaded than her husband. When Mak disregards her warnings, declaring that he can make more by stealing than working, he shows that he acts according to his own self-serving will, regardless of the consequence.
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Mak wants to eat the sheep immediately, but Gill stops him, reminding him that Coll, Gyb, and Daw will certainly suspect Mak of the crime and will come looking for their stolen sheep. Gill proposes that instead of eating the sheep right away, they disguise the sheep as a newborn baby until they can appease the shepherds. To make the trick more believable, Gill will lie in bed groaning as if she has just given birth.
Gill is the mastermind behind the plan to disguise the stolen sheep as a newborn baby, showing how she is quick-thinking, cunning, and deceitful. In contrast, Mak’s haste to eat the sheep shows he is impulsive and careless.
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Mak agrees to his wife’s clever plan and returns to the fields where the shepherds are asleep, hoping it will appear as if he obediently slept amongst them the whole night. That way, when the shepherds inevitably discover one of their sheep is missing, they will have less of a reason to suspect Mak of the crime.
Mak is willing to go to great lengths to feign innocence. He thinks that returning to the fields will help prove his innocence, even though the shepherds have been suspicious of him all along.
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