There are several important issues brought forth in Act III, Scene I, which Shakespeare must have felt significant enough to include in his historical play. First of all, the relationship between Hotspur and Glendower must be established. Although their first discussion begins with mutual respect and politeness, (Sit, cousin Percy; good cousin Hotspur. ) it quickly turns to quarreling over nearly every issue they discuss.
Whether it is Glendower s belief that his birth had some mystical portent, (Glend. I say the earth did shake when I was born. Hot. And I say the earth was not of my mind, If you suppose as fearing you it shook. ) or the distribution of the land, (Glend. I ll not have it alter d.
Hot. Who shall say me nay? ) the two seem quick to be at odds with one another. This conflict indicates a possible future tragic event to transpire between the two. Secondly, the issue of the division of land is important to show their frame of mind in this plot; that they are like buzzards circling over an animal, even before it has died. Finally, the manner in which Glendower is guiding the relationship between Mortimer and his daughter seems significant, as the two cannot communicate but through Glendower. It is apparent to me that the events illustrated in the previous paragraph were intended to set the stage for events to be played out some time in the near future.
The manner in which Shakespeare presented these events was obviously designed not only to stimulate emotional feelings within the audience, but also to entertain them. That there will be a conflict between Glendower and Hotspur seems inevitable. When it will happen seems to be the only question that is left following this scene. In this manner, Shakespeare has used this conflict to evoke a feeling of suspense or foreboding from his audience. The manner in which Hotspur mocks Glendower s ravings and boastful claims of cosmic powers not only displays this conflict between the characters but does so in a comical way. For example; (Glen.
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and at my birth The frame and huge foundation of the earth Shared like a coward. ).
For Hotspur s response, Shakespeare wrote it in the less formal prose rather than verse to broadcast Hotspur s underlying opinion of Glendower s opinion of himself (Hot. Why, so it would have done at the same season, if your mother s cat had but kitten ed, though yourself had never been born.
After 15 lines of Glendower s ravings about his supernatural importance ( These signs have marked me extraordinary; ), Hotspur s only response was to say, I think there s no man speaks better Welsh Since Glendower was a Welshman and speaking Welsh for him was no great skill, that statement, while amusing to the audience, would have been like a slap across his face. Even when Glendower begins to boast of his three previous defeats of Bolingbroke, ( thrice from the banks of Wye And sandy-bottomed Severn have I sent him Bootless home and weather beaten back. ) Hotspur comes back with a play on the word Bootless, (Home without boots, and in foul weather too? ).
It seems Glendower cannot say much about himself without Hotspur making jest of it, in spite of both Mortimer s and Worcester s warnings not to make him mad.
When he begins to brag about his prowess at making songs in English, Hotspur makes a comparison to screeching sounds that, would set my teeth nothing on edge In the division of the land, Hotspur once again seems determined to be at odds with Glendower and when Glendower finally caves in to his demands for a redrawing, he lets everyone know that the issue was really not that important to him, (I do not care: I ll give thrice so much land To any well-deserving friend ).
Glendower leaves after this discussion to haste the writer and Hotspur tells Mortimer why he is so irritated with Glendower. His references to English legend and heraldry would have stimulated the intellect and imaginations of the audience. Even now people are interested in hearing tales about Merlin and dragons; how much more so in Shakespeare s time. Mortimer tells Hotspur that it is only because Glendower holds him in such high esteem that he permits Hotspur to talk to him in such a manner, and live to tell about it, and Worcester makes an effort to point some of Hotspur s many shortcomings. Only then does Hotspur seem to realize the mistake he is making (Well, I am school d: good manners be your speed! ) and he seems to make an effort to be civil when Glendower returns with the women.
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The tone and pace of the scene turns more lighthearted with song, merriment and professions of love. This part of the scene would have evoked compassion and wistful emotions in the audience as Mortimer laid his head in his ladies lap while she sung to him in her native tongue. Mortimer s profession of love for his lady, even though he cannot understand a word she says, is quite touching to anyone seeing it. However, Hotspur once again provides contrast as he tries to emulate Mortimer s actions with his wife. Unfortunately, in his awkward attempt at passion, he cannot help but allow his true character to show through, (Come, Kate, thou art perfect in laying down: come, quick, quick, that I may lay my head in thy lap.
He gets even worse as he calls his wife, my brach, which means, my bitch hound! He continues to make fun of his wife in much the same manner as he did with Glendower. Even when she says something as simple as, Not mine, in good sooth, he cannot help but respond with a sarcastic, Not yours, in good sooth! Heart! You swear like a comfit-maker s wife. Finally, when she refuses to sing for him he stalks off like a child, taking with him any sympathy he may have had from the women in the audience.