At Shrewsbury, Hotspur, Worcester, and Douglas prepare for battle and receive the bad news that Northumberland and Glendower won’t be able to join them. As an army captain (a position secured for him by Hal), Falstaff drafts cowardly men who pay him to fill their spots with pathetic lowlifes, leaving Falstaff rich and his troops helpless. Hotspur and the rest of the rebels sneer at King Henry’s efforts to negotiate peace. Back at York, Richard Scroop tries to drum up more allies for the rebels by writing to friends.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."
-- (II, vii, 139-143)
In Wales, Hotspur, Mortimer, Glendower, and Worcester meet to pursue their plot and Hotspur argues heatedly with Glendower about and with everyone about his prospective portion of the land they will win from the king. serenades her beloved husband in Welsh, a language he feels miserable not understanding. Hotspur bickers with Lady Percy. At London castle, Hal apologizes to King Henry for his irresponsible behavior and promises to redeem himself to honor in his father’s eyes. Back at the tavern, Falstaff insists to that he’s been pickpocketed, a claim she and Hal both call nonsense.
All three of these forces create in Hal a sense of honor that is an integral part of his education as the ideal king, and throughout the action of Henry IV, Part I, Hal is gaining a knowledge of honor that will shape him into the King that he will become.
Henry IV Part 1 study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Henry IV Part 1 literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Henry IV Part 1.
As the rebels craft their plot, Prince Hal unfolds a plot of his own as he and Poins disguise themselves so that, after Falstaff, , , and rob travelers carrying riches to the king, Hal and Poins can then easily rob their cowardly friends of the robbed loot. Later at the tavern, Prince Hal and Poins egg Falstaff on in outrageous lies about his bravery facing his robbers. When Hal reveals his ruse, he declares Falstaff’s cowardice exposed, but Falstaff insists he has been valiant as ever, he simply knew he shouldn’t wound a prince. Prince Hal receives a message from his father, summoning him to court and recounting the mounting treason plot. Hal and Falstaff take turns play-acting King Henry. When arrives in search of Falstaff’s stolen loot, Hal covers for his friend.
In this way, King Henry rules through expedience in a Machiavellian way, discounting all morality for crown-retainment. He explains his usurpation of Richard II with a lexicon of counterfeiting and robbery - "I stole all courtesy from heaven", "like a robe pontifical", "I dressed myself in all humility" - which belies an obsession with the royal image. In doing so he loses sight of justice, ruling with excessive wrath, for he executes Worcester and Vernon, and of purpose. His anxiousness to maintain and cement his rule bookends the play: "So shaken as we are", "Let us not leave till all our own is won." His failure to rule effectively reveals an emptiness in prioritising royalty over humanity as he does but also vice versa. The chaos which envelops England, at both the level of the Court, with the rebellion, and at the level of the tavern, with Falstaff and Hal's Gad's Hill caper, proves that a multitude of considerations must be seen by a ruler.
By far the most compelling character is Prince Hal, Henry's son. He is a prodigal son who wastes his time in taverns and with the commoners. This image of Hal is built upon a play called The Famous Victories of , printed in 1598, which depicts Hal as a madcap in his youth who then undergoes a reformation and assumes the throne. The image of Hal as being a man ready to assume power is presented in the first act to us, when Hal tells the audience that he is really only undercover, learning the languages of the common man.
Thus we can see that neither royalty nor humanity is more important than the other for a ruler but, as Shakespeare shows to the audience, both are required in equal balance in order to rule effectively. The paragon of kingship, Hal, appears as a moderation of the faults of all the characters within King Henry IV Part 1. He maintains an effective proportion between royalty, not succumbing to the "misleader of youth" Falstaff, and humanity, allowing Falstaff's evident lie of killing Hotspur to live as he vows to "gild" it. Moreover, he surpasses the archetypes of regality, the King, although he counterfeits it, and of humanity, Falstaff, who suffers from intense self-interest, so creating a prosperous balance. Shakespeare advocates balance in rulers, particularly between royalty and a concern for humanity, and disparages through constructed failure, immoderate rule.
"'Banish all the World': Falstaff's Iconoclastic Threat to Kingship in 1 Henry IV." Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature59:4 (2007): 219-46.
In 1402 England, is forced to postpone his plans for crusades to the Holy Land in order to tend to unrest in England: , , , and have been fighting and the warrior Hotspur refuses to turn over his war prisoners to the king, an ominous sign of disloyalty. Meanwhile, is drunkenly frolicking his youth away with and , even though King Henry wishes Hal could be the honorable soldier Hotspur is. In private, Hal reflects that his frivolous corruption is just an act and he will soon emerge into his true, honorable self, all the more impressive for being such a stark contrast. Hotspur argues at court with King Henry over the prisoners and over ransoming the captured Mortimer (whom the king insists is a good-for-nothing traitor). Hotspur emerges infuriated that his family is being disserved by the very man it helped raise to the throne back in the days of King Richard II. Behind Henry’s back, lets Hotspur and in on a rebel plot he has strategized against the king. Hotspur eagerly embraces the plot and has no patience for ’s letters advising him to be cautious. He hurries to take action and bickers with on his way out.