Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 1



One of the French lords and a band of soldiers set a trap for Parolles as previously planned. They capture and blindfold him and speak in a hilarious nonsense language which he takes to be Russian — that is, "Throca movousus, cargo, cargo, cargo." To save his life, Parolles, as predicted, immediately volunteers to betray anyone and anything:

Oh, let me live!
And all the secrets of our camp I'll show,
Their force, their purposes; nay, I'll speak that
Which you will wonder at. (92-95)


For Parolles, the Falstaffian mock-motto, "Discretion is the better part of valor," seems to apply. There is no real surprise in his behavior, although his captors marvel at his self-knowledge:

Parolles: What shall I say I have done? It must be a very
Plausive [plausible] invention that carries it.
They begin to smoke me [find me out], anddisgraces
Have of late knocked too often at my door.
I find My tongue is too foolhardy.
First Lord [aside]: This is the first truth that e'er thine own
Tongue was guilty of.
Second Lord: Is it possible he should know what he is, and
Be that he is? (28-36)

There is a sly joke embedded in this scene, in which the "man of words" (which is what Parolles' name literally means) is tricked by a plot which makes use of some assorted syllables of a gobbledygook language that Parolles thinks is Russian.