The dauphin and his horse

Act 3 Scene 7 – Key Scene

In this scene, the dauphin is impatient for the morning’s battle. He boasts at great length about his horse to the Constable and Orléans and gets into an exchange of insults with the Constable.

Take a look at an extract from this scene and see what it reveals about the dauphin’s character and what the others think of him. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? During rehearsals, actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    What a long night is this? I will not change my horse with any that treads but on four pasterns. Ch’ha! He bounds from the earth, as if his entrails were hairs: le cheval volant, the Pegasus, chez les narines de feu!. When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air, the earth sings when he touches it.


    The flying horse, Pegasus (the winged horse in classical mythology) with fiery nostrils.

    What does the Dauphin want the Constable and Orléans to think of him?

    He’s of the colour of the nutmeg.
    And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus: he is pure air and fire. He is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts.

    A hero from Greek mythology who kills monsters.

    Old horses that are worn out and useless.

    Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent horse.
    It is the prince of palfreys. His neigh is like the bidding of a monarch and his countenance enforces homage.

    A horse for riding, not for war.

    His neigh is like a command from a king. His appearance and how he carries himself demands respect.

    No more, cousin.
    Nay, the man hath no wit that cannot, from the rising of the lark to the lodging of the lamb, vary deserved praise on my palfrey. I once writ a sonnet in his praise and began thus: ‘Wonder of nature’—

    No, the man who can’t praise my horse from dawn to dusk is stupid.

    A love poem.

    I have heard a sonnet begin so to one’s mistress.
    Then did they imitate that which I composed to my courser, for my horse is my mistress.

    A fast horse.

    Your mistress bears well.
    Me well, which is the prescript praise and perfection of a good and particular mistress.
    Nay, for methought yesterday your mistress shrewdly shook your back.

    Your mistress nearly threw you off her back.

    So perhaps did yours.

    What do you imagine the Dauphin thinks of the Constable and what makes you think that?

    Mine was not bridled.

    My mistress is not a horse.

    O, then belike she was old and gentle, and you rode like a kern of Ireland, your French hose off, and in your straight strossers.

    And you rode barelegged, like an Irish peasant.

    You have good judgement in horsemanship.
    Be warned by me, then: they that ride so fall into foul bogs. I had rather have my horse to my mistress.

    What does the Dauphin’s choice of language tell us about the kind of man he is?

  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud. Are there any words or lines that really stand out?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of Henry V at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for this scene feel right to you?