Is Northumberland as portrayed in Act one scene one, a sympathetic character or not?

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A2 English literature                Joanne Murch

Is Northumberland as portrayed in Act one scene one, a sympathetic

character or not?

        Act one, scene one takes place in the Duke of Northumberland’s Warkworth castle, and he is the father of Harry Monmouth who, as Rumour informs the audience during the prologue, is dead. As shown in this quotation:

        “My office is

        To noise abroad that Harry Monmouth fell

        Under the wrath of noble Hotspur’s sword”

Rumours only proof of this death is from hearsay, and the fact that this allegorical figure is the embodiment of (as his name gives connotations of) all the rumours that the people of England have heard and spread during the battle between anarchists and royalty, shows that he may in fact be a very unreliable source. During Act one scene one the rumour of Harry Monmouth’s death is confirmed after quite a lot of banter between Lord Bardolph, Northumberland and Travers. During their discussion it becomes uncertain of whether Harry has actually fallen during the Battle of Shrewsbury because Lord Bardolph tells the rebel Northumberland that his son is alive and has fought courageously and successfully through the war, but just moment’s later Travers enters the scene only to confuse him by contradicting this and exclaiming that Harry Monmouth is in fact dead. However, both Travers and Lord Bardolph are unreliable because neither has a first hand account of the events. Morton then enters the scene to confirm that what Rumours and Lord Bardolph have been saying is indeed accurate. Morton is by far the most accurate witness since he actually observed it all happening:

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        “That which I would to God I had not seen,

        But these mine eyes saw him in a bloody state,

        Rendering faint quittance, wearied and out-breathed”

Morton states that he watched Harry Monmouth struggle to breath and bloodied up, and the audience may believe that this image has taunted him for the reason that he declares he wished to God that he ‘had no seen’ it. As Morton is only an acquaintance of Harry’s but it still obviously finding his death a difficult time it makes the audience feel even more sympathetic to his fathers ordeal. Through all ...

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