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    King Henry IV, Part I SummaryKing Henry IV, Part I Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every

    important action in the play. King Henry IV, Part I Summary is divided by the five acts of

    the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.

    Act I.

    King Henry IV opens the play by explaining that the recent civil war in England has left its mark

    on his kingdom. He hopes a much-delayed religious crusade will unite his people together once


    Unfortunately King Henry IV learns of trouble in his land. First we learn that Mortimer, The Earl

    of March was captured in a battle with the irregular "Glendower,"which resulted in a thousanddeaths for Mortimer's men.

    Next we learn that though Young Harry Percy (Hotspur) protected Holmedon from the Earl of

    Douglas in the north for the King, he has kept the prisoners for himself rather than give themover to King Henry.

    King Henry IV is saddened that his own son is not nearly as capable as Hotspur and regrets that

    Mortimer's capture and Hotspur's insolence will force a further postponement of his religious


    We are introduced to Prince Hal, or Prince Henry, or as King Henry calls him, Harry, the son

    King Henry IV wishes was more like the valiant Hotspur. Far from acting as a Prince arguablyshould, Hal is keeping company with petty thieves.

    We are also introduced to Falstaff, one such thief and Poins who is planning a robbery atGadshill (A location). Poins explains that he and Hal (both disguised) will steal what their

    friends have already stolen from carriages running along Gadshill and will enjoy a laugh at

    Falstaff's expense afterwards.

    In an important soliloquy, Hal reveals that though he has been keeping bad company, he will

    soon show his true colors at the right time...

    Meanwhile King Henry punishes the Earl of Worcester, The Earl of Northumberland andHotspur (Northumberland's son) for forgetting their obligations to King Henry.

    Hotspur and his father offer the prisoners gladly, arguing their refusal to do so was all amisunderstanding. King Henry disagrees, believing Hotspur wanted to use the prisoners to forceKing Henry to pay the ransom of Lord Mortimer, his brother-in-law. King Henry will not do this

    because Lord Mortimer betrayed his forces by marrying the daughter of Glendower, his enemy

    on the battlefield! Hotspur is ordered to hand over the prisoners but refuses.

    Worcester suggests a plan to deal with King Henry, which involves Douglas, Glendower and the

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    Archbishop of York siding against King Henry. Hotspur hands over the prisoners to buy time...

    Act II.

    Early in the morning, a Chamberlain, informs Gadshill at an Inn of a rich carriage heading their

    way, important information for their upcoming robbery...

    Hal and Poins meet for their robbery of their friend's robbery takings. Poins explains that he hasremoved Falstaff's horse. The thieves spilt into two groups, Poins and Hal taking the low ground.

    Falstaff, Gadshill, Bardolph and Peto successfully rob several passing travelers and are then

    robbed themselves by a disguised Poins and Hal. With their horses taken, Poins and Hal willhave to wait for their friends to meet them in London; they will have to walk there empty


    Hotspur reads a letter confirming that a nobleman they have approached will not join their causeagainst King Henry IV angering Hotspur. Hotspur worries that this nobleman will betray them,

    revealing their plans to King Henry. Hotspur's wife resents being neglected by her husband...

    Hal and Poins are at an inn waiting for their luckless friends Falstaff, Gadshill, Bardolph, Peto to

    arrive and looking forward to laughing at Falstaff's lies as to how they allowed themselves to be

    robbed. In the meanwhile, Poins and Hal give inn servant Francis the run around and Hal revealshis disdain of royal title, displaying a common touch.

    Tellingly, he reveals his envy of Hotspur, suggesting he wishes he was more like him... Falstaff

    and friends arrive, Falstaff being exposed as a liar to much amusement. Falstaff argues that he

    knew Hal was robbing him and thus allowed himself to be robbed.

    Hal learns that Owen Glendower, his son in law Mortimer, Old Northumberland, his son Hotspurand Douglas have turned against King Henry IV (The Percy revolt). Falstaff is wanted for a

    robbery. Hal decides to pay back Falstaff's robbery victims and to have Falstaff lead troopsagainst this revolt...

    Act III.

    The rebels divide up England. Mortimer is to have the south, Glendower the west and Hotspurwho represents the Percy family will have the north. Glendower and Hotspur squabble over their

    territories but eventually compromise. Hotspur's wife Kate is not so blindly loving of her

    husband as is Mortimer's wife, Lady Mortimer...

    King Henry criticizes Prince Hal for wasting time with his life. He warns that Hotspur may have

    a greater claim to be King of England by his actions than Hal will by right alone if Hal continues

    to waste time while men like Hotspur earn the people's admiration just as King Henry himselfdid which helped him to replace Richard II. Hal assures his father that he will defeat Hotspur,

    overjoying King Henry.

    We learn that Douglas and the English rebels have met at Shrewsbury representing a very

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    powerful force. Hal and father set off to meet this threat.

    At the Boar's Head Tavern, Falstaff is told to pay his bills by an angry Mistress Quickly. Falstaffcomplains that he has no money, his pocket was picked, cursing Hal in the process. Hal arrives,

    explaining that he repaid those Falstaff stole from and that he was the one who picked Falstaff's

    pocket. Falstaff is placed in command of some men, reluctantly becoming a soldier. Halorganizes preparations for the upcoming battle...

    Act IV.

    At the rebel camp, the rebels learn that they will be fighting weaker than expected; Hotspur'sfather, Henry Percy, The Earl of Northhumberland cannot join them, owing to illness. Hotspur

    though disheartened quickly regains his enthusiasm.

    Vernon arrives, announcing that not only do King Henry's forces number thirty thousand, butalso Glendower's forces are unlikely to be available either since they need another two weeks

    time to be gathered. Hotspur now facing certain defeat, looks death in the eye, determined to winno matter what the odds...

    Falstaff ashamedly leads his ragtag troops towards Coventry, pretending that he is not ashamed

    of them. Hal meets him, laughing at Falstaff's expense about his troops. Falstaff, Hal andWestmoreland head off together for Shrewsbury to meet the rebels in battle...

    The rebels disagree on strategy. Douglas and Hotspur want to attack the King Henry's troops

    immediately at night, reasoning that these troops will be tired from their travels. Vernon and

    Worcester disagree, advising caution as their own troops are not yet fully gathered and King

    Henry's forces presently outnumbers them.

    Sir Walter Blunt arrives, offering a compromise from King Henry that could prevent war.

    Hotspur says no but adds that in the morning Hotspur's uncle (Worcester) shall meet King Henryto discuss matters further...

    The Archbishop of York makes plans, making it quite clear that he knows Hotspur faces KingHenry's forces without the help of Northhumberland and Glendower. Sir Michael though, is

    confident of victory even when it is learned that Mortimer's forces will not be there either. The

    rebel forces will only number those men under Hotspur's, Douglas' Mordake's, Vernon's, andWorcester's control. The Archbishop knows the stakes are high should their rebellion fail...

    Act V.

    Worcester and Vernon speak with the King on behalf of the rebels. Worcester airs their

    grievances that King Henry has forgotten that they helped him achieve power and that KingHenry has taken more than he originally promised.

    King Henry offers a pardon to all the rebels to avoid a bloody war.

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    Hal shows his wisdom by predicting that Douglas and Hotspur confident of victory will not

    accept the pardon. Falstaff is reluctant to die, questioning the value of honour from battle...

    Worcester decides not to tell Hotspur of King Henry's generous pardon offer, arguing that if they

    accept, they will never be trusted. Vernon disagrees. Douglas and Hotspur arrive, Worcester

    lying to the two men that King Henry is merciless and also by not telling them of King Henry'spardon offer.

    Worcester tells us that Hal has challenged Hotspur to single combat and both Vernon andWorcester sing Hal's praises showing just how far Hal has come since his days of stealing with

    Falstaff and company. Hotspur faces certain defeat but bravely starts battle...

    The battle rages. Douglas kills Sir Walter Blunt, believing him to be King Henry. We learn that

    the King has several such impersonators on the battlefield to protect him. Douglas explains to

    Hotspur that he has only killed Sir Walter Blunt.

    Falstaff is a worried man, barely three of his one hundred and fifty men have survived thebloodbath, Falstaff questioning again the value of honour if dies in war. Falstaff tells Hal that hehas killed Hotspur. Hal does not believe him. Falstaff pledges to kill Hotspur but to save himself


    King Henry IV tells his son to leave the battlefield. Hal does not want to, arguing that a scratch

    should not warrant his leaving the battle. Douglas fights King Henry, King Henry losing. Hal

    saves King Henry, Douglas running away. This redeems Hal in King Henry's eyes.

    Hotspur and Hal at last fight, Hal first showing his respect for Hotspur. Falstaff cheers Hal on

    but Douglas returns, fighting Falstaff who falls to the ground, feigning death.

    Hal kills Hotspur and mourns Falstaff's death. Falstaff rises, explaining that he faked his death to

    avoid a real one at the hands of Douglas.

    Falstaff, fearing Hotspur is faking his death, stabs him and claims that he killed Hotspur,

    expecting to be made an Earl or a Duke. He explains that though he was on the ground likeHotspur, both rose up and Falstaff then killed Hotspur. The battle over, a general stand down in


    The rebellion defeated, King Henry reminds prisoner Worcester that he did offer the rebels a

    pardon to avoid war. Worcester and Vernon are to be killed, while King Henry decides the fate

    of the other prisoners.

    King Henry allows Hal to set Douglas free. Attention now turns to the next battle to be fought,

    against Northhumberland and Archbishop Scroop, who are arming themselves for war...

    King Henry IV, Part I Commentary - Act I.

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    King Henry IV, Part I Commentary provides a comprehensive description of every act

    ith explanations and translations for all important quotes.

    Act I. Scene I. - London. The Palace.

    King Henry IV: "So shaken as we are, so wan with care, / Find we a time for frighted peace topant...."

    A tired and drained King Henry IV explains to us that a civil war in England has left its

    mark on his kingdom. He hopes a much-delayed religious crusade will unite his people

    again under one purpose.

    Unfortunately the Earl of Westmoreland informs the King Henry of trouble in his land.

    First we learn that Mortimer, The Earl of March was captured in a battle with the

    irregular "Glendower" which resulted in a thousand deaths for Mortimer's men. Next we

    learn that though Young Henry Percy (Hotspur) protected Holmedon from the Earl of

    Douglas in the north, Hotspur has kept the prisoners for himself rather than give them toKing Henry IV, his king.

    King Henry laments that his own son is not nearly as capable as Hotspur and regrets that

    these two problems (Mortimer and Hotspur) will force a further postponement of his

    already delayed religious crusade...

    The play begins with England's current ruler, King Henry IV, speaking to the Earl of

    Westmoreland about the troubles of his recent rule and his plans to start a religious crusade...

    The king is weary and his opening dialogue conveys the feeling that the civil strife England has

    endured has taken its toll on both king and country.

    King Henry IV describes this vividly when he says "So shaken as we are, so wan with care, /

    Find we a time for frighted peace to pant," (Line 1).

    King Henry explains that his people have fought one another (Lines 4-13) with a fury "close of

    [to] civil butchery," (Line 13), but now, he believes his once divided people will "March all one

    way, and be no more oppos'd / Against acquaintance," (march together and no longer fight thosethey know), (Line 15) because the English people will be united together in a religious crusade

    against those enemies of Christianity in Jerusalem (Lines 18-27).

    King Henry himself refers to this when he describes the purpose of his crusade as being to "chasethese pagans in those holy fields" (Line 24).

    This comment is a reference to those who now inhabit the holy fields where King Henry

    explains, Jesus Christ once walked and later was crucified or "nail'd" (Line 26) for the advantage

    or benefit of all Christians four hundred years before (the time of this play is during rule of KingHenry IV), (Lines 24-27).

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    King Henry also explains that this religious crusade is not a new project, saying "our purpose

    [the crusade] is a twelvemonth [one year] old," (Line 28).

    King Henry now learns some unpleasant news from the Earl of Westmoreland... The crusade will

    again have to be postponed since news has come that "the noble Mortimer [Earl of March],"

    whilst leading the men of Herefordshire against the "irregular and wild Glendower," wascaptured "And a thousand of his people butchered;" (Line 42).

    The Earl, adds that the ensuing mutilation or "shameless transformation" (Line 44) performed ontheir corpses cannot be described without much shame in the telling (Lines 44-46).

    King Henry resigns himself to the inevitable conclusion that this current crisis will delay "our

    business for the Holy Land", specifically his crusade (Line 48).

    The Earl now adds that there is more bad news from the north:."On Holy-rood day, the gallantHotspur" (Line 52) also known as the Young Henry Percy commanded King Henry's troops

    against "the brave Archibald, / That ever-valiant and approved Scot," (The Earl of Douglas),(Line 53) in a battle at Holmedon.

    Unfortunately the messenger telling the Earl of Westmoreland this news "did take horse," or left

    the scene of the battle "Uncertain of the issue any way" (uncertain who actually won), (Line 61).

    King Henry now fills the Earl in on the missing points. From Sir Walter Blunt, who has justarrived or in King Henry's words who is "new lighted from his horse," (just off his horse), (Line

    63), King Henry IV has learned that Westmoreland's news is good news.

    Not only was Holmedon kept in their (King Henry's) hands (Line 65) but the Earl of Douglas

    was defeated with some "Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights, / Balk'd in their ownblood" or heaped up in their own blood dead from what Sir Walter Blunt could see (Line 68).

    As for prisoners, King Henry IV continues, Hotspur (The Young Henry Percy) took "Mordake

    the Earl of Fife," the eldest son of the beaten Douglas and the Earls of Athol, Murray, Angus and


    King Henry asks the Earl of Westmoreland, "is not this an honourable spoil? A gallant prize?" (isnot this a honorable spoil or booty / loot, a gallant prize), (Line 75).

    The Earl of Westmoreland agrees, saying, "It is a conquest for a prince to boast of" (Line 77).

    That last line saddens King Henry who says as much (Line 78).

    King Henry explains that Young Percy's victory saddens and marks him in sin that he should

    envy "my Lord Northumberland" (Line 79) for being so blessed as a father to have Percy for a

    son, "A son who is the theme of honour's tongue;" (Line 81) whilst King Henry "by looking onthe praise of him [Young Percy]," (Line 84) can only see "riot and dishonour stain the brow

    [forehead] / Of my young Harry (his real name is Henry but King Henry IV calls him this) ",

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    King Henry's own son (Line 84).

    King Henry wishes his son was as noble and gallant as Lord Northumberland's son, Young Percywho defeated his enemies on the battlefield whilst his own son did not...

    King Henry IV now laments that if only "some night-tripping fairy" (a fairy) had exchanged theirchildren in their "cradle-clothes" (toddler clothing / when the boys were young) (Line 88), then

    he would have a son he could truly be proud of (Lines 77-91).

    King Henry now asks the Earl of Westmoreland what he thinks of Hotspur or "young Percy's

    pride?" that he keeps the prisoners he has taken for his "own use" giving King Henry onlyMordake the Earl of Fife rather than give them all up to his king? (Line 92).

    Westmoreland explains that Young Percy's (Hotspur's) lack of respect is the result of "his uncle's

    teaching," (Line 96), the Earl of Worcester whom Westmoreland describes as being"Malevolent" or opposed to King Henry IV in all aspects.

    It is the Earl's influence on Young Percy (Hotspur), Westmoreland explains, that makes YoungPercy "prune himself, and bristle up / The crest of youth [summon up the crest of youth] against

    your dignity [King Henry IV]" (Line 99).

    King Henry IV now explains that he has sent for Young Percy to explain himself, saying "for

    this cause a while we must neglect / Our holy purpose to Jerusalem" (because of this problem wemust ignore our plans for a crusade a little longer), (Line 101).

    King Henry tells Westmoreland that next Wednesday they shall hold their council in Windsor,

    telling Westmoreland to inform the Lords and to return quickly for as King Henry puts it, "more

    is to be said and to be done / Than out of anger can be uttered" (Line 106).

    Act I. Scene II. - The Same. An Apartment of the Prince's.

    Prince Hal (Prince Henry): "My reformation, glittering o'er my fault, / Shall show more goodlyand attract more eyes / Than that which hath no foil to set it off. I'll so offend to make offence a

    skill; / Redeeming time when men think least I will."

    We are introduced to Prince Hal, or Prince Henry, the son King Henry IV called "Harry"

    in the earlier scene and the son, King Henry IV wishes was more like the valiant Hotspur.

    Far from acting as a Prince arguably should, Hal is keeping company with petty thieves.

    We are introduced to Falstaff, one such thief and Poins who is planning a robbery atGadshill (A location).

    Poins explains that he and Hal (both disguised) will steal what their friends have already

    stolen from carriages running along Gadshill and will both enjoy Falstaff's false

    explanations of what how they were robbed afterwards. In an important soliloquy, Hal

    reveals that though he has been keeping bad company, he will soon show his true colours at

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    the right time...

    Meanwhile in Prince Henry's (Hal's) apartment in London, Prince Henry is speaking withFalstaff (Sir John Falstaff). Falstaff introduces himself to us by asking Hal (Prince Henry) what

    time it is.

    Prince Henry replies that Falstaff whom he describes as "fat-witted," or slow witted "hast [has]

    forgotten to demand that truly which thou [you] wouldst [would or should] truly know" (Line 6),

    adding that unless hours were cups of sack, minutes were capons, dials the signs of leaping-houses "and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench [women] in flame-colour'd taffeta," why

    should he care? (Line 12).

    Falstaff, who refers to Prince Henry as "Hal", explains that thieves such as himself "that take

    purses go by the moon and the seven stars," (Line 15), adding that should Hal one day become

    King of England, or "as, God save thy Grace,-majesty," (Line 19) he believes "for grace thouwilt have none,-" (for grace you shall have none), (Line 19).

    This comment from Falstaff who clearly shows little respect or deference for the Prince Henry'stitle and position angers Hal into saying "What! none?" (Line 21).

    Again Falstaff presses home his friendly insult, completely unafraid of his friend Prince Hal(Line 22).

    Falstaff now suggests that when Prince Henry is made "king," they should both be "gentlemen of

    the shade, minions of the moon;" adding that men should consider them both "men of good

    government, being governed as the sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress the moon, under

    whose countenance we steal" (men of good government who like the sea should be governed by

    the moon or the darkness under which they are allowed or able to steal), (Line 33).

    Falstaff's comments that they should both steal whilst being considered men of goodgovernment, shows us that Prince Henry is certainly running with a less than honest crowd and

    certainly not the crowd one would expect to produce a fair, honest and conscience future King of


    Thus we first see Henry as a man perhaps more willing to run with interesting company ignoring

    their moral inadequacies for the thrill, excitement and interest of living with a more interestingcrowd than Prince Henry would otherwise know, not unlike many privileged youth today who

    choose friends with exciting but often less privileged lives to bring excitement their own.

    We also can see from this good natured exchange that though Prince Henry would like to think

    his wits are faster than Falstaff's the opposite may well be true.

    Returning to the play, Falstaff and Hal discuss their recent activities, in particular discussing the

    merits of "the hostess of the tavern" (Line 46) and in a moment suggesting seriousness, Falstaff

    tells Prince Henry that when he is king, "Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief" (do not

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    when you are king, hang a thief), (Line 70).

    The two now exchange further witticisms over the hanging of thieves, Falstaff mockinglysuggesting that his relationship with the Young Prince has corrupted him (Line 101) and that

    before meeting Hal, Falstaff "knew nothing;" but now he is damned, jokingly suggesting that his

    life must be given over to redeem himself (Lines 73-115).

    The Prince suggests that he sees a change in the better for Falstaff, "from praying to purse-

    taking" (Line 115).

    Poins now enters, Prince Henry exchanging witticisms before discussing an upcoming robbery(Lines 116-136).

    Poins now explains the robbery, saying that "There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich

    offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses:" (Line 138). Poins has made meticulousplans (Lines 137-146) adding that "If you will go I will stuff your purses full of crowns; if you

    will not, tarry at home and be hanged" (Line 147).

    Falstaff suggests that if he does stay home, he will hang Poins for going...

    Falstaff now asks Hal (Prince Henry) if he will join this Gadshill led robbery, Prince Henry

    coyly saying "Who, I rob? I a thief? not I, by my faith" (Line 153).

    Falstaff now goads Hal suggesting "There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship

    [friendship] in thee [you], nor thou camest not [you did not come] of the blood royal, if thoudarest not stand for ten shillings" (Line 154).

    Tellingly in view of the fact that Hal is a prince with obligations of conduct, Prince Henry replies"Well, come what will, I'll tarry at home" (Line 161), choosing not to join the robbing party.

    Falstaff protests that "I'll be a traitor then, when thou [you] art [are] king" (Line 164), Hal telling

    him "I care not" (Line 165).

    Poins now tells Falstaff to leave him and the Prince alone, he will convince the Prince to join


    Falstaff now leaves for Eastcheap, one of the stops on the robbing trip, and Poins begins to

    convince Hal to join them saying, "I have a jest [joke] to execute [perform] that I cannot manage

    alone" (Line 179).

    Poins explains that Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto and Gadshill (the person not the location) shall rob

    the men they have already described but Poins and Prince Henry will not be there, instead they

    will rob them once they have the booty. Poins is very serious about this suggesting, "if you and I

    do not rob them, cut this [my / Poin's] head from my shoulders" (Line 185).

    The Prince however is unsure they can lose the rest of the thieves. Poins tells him not to worry;

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    they will appoint a place to meet, not turn up and Falstaff and company will continue the robbery

    without them (Lines 186-193).

    The Prince is still worried they will be identified. Poins again tells the Prince not to worry, they

    will hide their horses and Poins has brought cases of "buckram" to "inmask our noted outward

    garments" or to camouflage their distinguishing clothes from Falstaff and company (Lines 197-201).

    Again Hal has his doubts, saying he doubts they will be easy to steal from (Line 202).

    Poins again has the answer. Two of them Poins is certain are cowards and the third is unlikely tofight "longer than he sees reason," (Line 204).

    Poins now explains that the virtue or fun of this little jest or joke will be the "incomprehensible

    lies that this same fat rogue [Falstaff] will tell us when we meet at supper: how thirty, at least, hefought with; what wards, what blows, what extremities he endured;" (how thirty men attacked

    him with made up details) and in the reproof or retelling of what really happened, will lie the jestor joke on Falstaff, Poins explains (Lines 202-212).

    The Prince is convinced, he will go with Poins, telling him to meet with him tomorrow night at

    Eastcheap, where he will have supper.

    Now alone, Prince Henry tells us what steel his character is truly made from...

    Prince Henry explains to us that while he has indeed been idle (Lines 217-229), he will soon castoff this lazy lifestyle (Line 230).

    He explains that he knows he has been keeping bad company, describing his keeping badcompany as akin to the sun which allows itself to be smothered by "the base contagious clouds"(Line 220), (a metaphor for his bad company), but which will rid itself of these contaminants

    when the sun chooses again to see and show itself for what it really is (Lines 218-225).

    Prince Henry also adds that this change of character will shine like "bright metal on a sullen

    ground," (Line 234), the more so because it is unexpected and more than if he had been truly

    honorable to begin with (Line 237), adding that before he does this, he will offend so much as tomake it seem a skill, only then reforming when everyone least expects it.

    Prince Henry ends the scene saying:

    "My reformation, glittering o'er [over] my fault, / Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes

    / Than that which hath no foil to set it off. I'll so offend to make offence a skill; / Redeemingtime when men think least I will" (Lines 235-239).

    Act I. Scene III. - The Same. The Palace.

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    King Henry: "I do see / Danger and disobedience in thine eye."

    King Henry punishes the Earl of Worcester, The Earl of Northumberland and Hotspur

    (Young Henry Percy, Northumberland's son) for forgetting their obligations to the king.

    Hotspur and father offer the prisoners gladly, arguing their refusal to do so was a


    King Henry IV disagrees, believing Hotspur (Young Henry) wanted to use the prisoners to

    lever King Henry IV into paying the ransom of Lord Mortimer, his brother-in-law. King

    Henry IV will not, arguing that this man betrayed his forces by marrying the daughter of

    Glendower, his enemy on the battlefield!

    Hotspur is ordered to hand over the prisoners but refuses. Worcester suggests a plan to

    deal with King Henry, which involves Douglas, Glendower and the Archbishop of York

    against King Henry. Hotspur will hand over the prisoners to buy time...

    Back at the King Henry's palace, an angry King Henry IV is verbally punishing The Earl ofWorcester (Lines 1-13), The Earl of Northhumberland and his son Young Percy (Hotspur).

    He reminds them all that they have "tread upon my patience:" (Line 4) warning them that he will

    use force to bring them into line if necessary (Lines 1-9).

    This leads Worcester to remind King Henry IV that his house (The Percy family) does notdeserve "The scourge of greatness to be used on it;" (the king's forces to be used against it),

    (Line 11) adding that the very greatness (King Henry's throne) King Henry IV now threatens

    them with would not have been possible without their help (Lines 10-12).

    King Henry IV now tells Worcester to "get thee gone;" or leave since he sees "Danger anddisobedience in thine [your] eye" (Line 16).

    Turning to Northhumberland, King Henry hears Northhumberland voice the opinion that the

    prisoners his son "Harry Percy" (Hotspur, Young Henry) took, which are now demanded by

    King Henry IV are not denied more strongly to the him than they are offered.

    Northhumberland goes on to suggest that envy or "misprison" is guilty of this fault and not hisson (Lines 23-28).

    Hotspur (called Harry by his father) now defends himself saying, "I did deny [to the king] no

    prisoners:" (Line 29) but also that he was greeted by a man shortly after battle requesting theprisoners for the king.

    Unfortunately this "popinjay," (Line 50) so angered him with his noble disdain for the smells and

    scenes of battle that Hotspur did answer this man representing the king somewhat "neglectingly,

    [rudely / disrespectfully]", Hotspur asking that this incident does not come between him and hislove of his majesty, King Henry IV (Lines 29-69).

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    Sir Walter Blunt now speaks, suggesting to the king that "Whatever Harry Percy then had said /

    To such a person and in such a place," (Line 71) be best forgotten (Lines 70-76).

    King Henry now replies to all this, saying "yet he [Hotspur] doth [does] deny his prisoners, / But

    with proviso and exception," suggesting that it was Hotspur's intent to use the prisoners to levy

    King Henry IV into providing the ransom for his brother-in-law Mortimer, the Earl of March andthe very man who "wilfully betray'd" the forces he led (Line 81).

    On top of all this, King Henry IV reminds all present that Mortimer then went on to marry thedaughter of the "damn'd Glendower," (Line 83) the man he led his forces to fight.

    King Henry now asks, "Shall our coffers [funds] then / Be emptied to redeem a traitor home?"

    (Line 86).

    Hotspur now defends his brother in law vigorously, explaining that the "noble Mortimer "(Line111) is no traitor, having taken wounds in his battle against Glendower (Lines 93-112).

    King Henry IV, though is far from convinced, explaining to Percy (Hotspur) that Mortimer nevermet with Glendower (Line 114) and now instructing Hotspur to send his prisoners to him as

    quickly as possible, telling Hotspur "Send me your prisoners with the speediest means, / Or you

    shall hear in such a kind from me / As will displease you" (send me your prisoners as quickly aspossible or you will hear from me in a way I am sure you will not like), (Line 120).

    King Henry IV, Sir Walter Blunt and the Henry's train or followers now depart, leaving a furious

    Hotspur who refuses to obey his king.

    Hotspur is adamant nothing will change his mind, adding that "if the devil come and roar for

    them [the prisoners], I will not send them: I will after straight / And tell him so; for I will easemy heart, / Albeit I make a hazard of my head" (if the devil himself asks for the prisoners, I will

    not give them. I will tell him this straight for I will ease my heart even if I now place my headand my life at risk), (Line 125).

    Northhumberland, Hotspur's father tries to tell his son to calm down but Worcester now returnsand Hotspur starts another outburst, pledging his loyalty to Mortimer and saying "I will lift the

    down-trod [downtrodden] Mortimer / As high i' [in] the air as this unthankful king," (Line 136).

    Hotspur now mentions that King Henry turned pale at the mention of the ransom for Mortimer,

    suggesting that King Henry IV was "Trembling even at the name of Mortimer" (Line 144).

    Worcester explains why, saying he is not surprised, asking "was he not proclaim'd [proclaimed] /

    By Richard [King Henry's predecessor, Richard II] that dead is the next of blood?" (was he not

    proclaimed as the successor to Richard II, the last king), (Line 146).

    Worcester explains that King Henry IV has very good reason to fear Mortimer. King Richard II,whom King Henry IV replaced as King of England with the help of the Percies, named Mortimer

    as his successor. Thus Mortimer represents a threat to the legitimacy of King Henry's rule over

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    Northhumberland, Worcester and Hotspur now retell recent history, explaining that Richard IImade that proclamation shortly before his Irish expedition after which he returned to England

    and was soon after deposed (removed from power) and then murdered (Lines 147-152).

    Worcester echoes how the death of Richard II scandalized the "world's wide mouth" (Line 153)

    and Hotspur asks whether King Richard II did "Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer / Heir to

    the crown?" (Line 156) learning that he did and that King Henry IV has forgotten the Percyfamily who helped him become king notably in the Bolingbroke revolt (Line 176).

    Worcester now interrupts to suggest a dark and secret plan which he describes as "a secret book,"

    to be unclasped or opened of a matter both dangerous and deep (Lines 187-193).

    Hotspur is enthusiastic, especially since it involves honor (Line 196) and because it involvesdanger (Line 195).

    Northhumberland now remarks that the thought of some great exploit drives Hotspur beyond thebounds of patience (Line 200), Hotspur now confirming this (Lines 201-211).

    Hotspur (Young Percy, Young Henry, Harry) now mentions that he will keep all his Scottish

    prisoners, Hotspur saying that for refusing him the Mortimer's ransom or even to speak

    Mortimer's name, Hotspur will "holla 'Mortimer!'" in King Henry's ear when he is asleep (Lines219-226).

    Hotspur pledges to defy "this Bolingbroke: / And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales,"

    (Prince Henry), (Line 229) who Hotspur believes the king does not even like and would be

    happy if he were poisoned.

    Northumberland now succeeds in cooling down his hot headed son, allowing Worcester to

    instruct him to return the prisoners to King Henry IV to calm him down and throw the king off

    guard whilst he also is to make peace with Douglas through his son, to secure them Scottish

    support and forces for their plan (Lines 260-263).

    Worcester now tells Northhumberland to seek out the Archbishop of York who has taken hisbrother's death hard. Hotspur is excited that soon the power of "Scotland and of York," will soon

    oin with Mortimer (Line 281).

    Worcester now sets Northhumberland and son Hotspur (Young Percy) on their separate ways,telling them to be ready to receive word, which could be sudden, that the plan to remove King

    Henry is afoot.

    At this point, Worcester explains that he will go to Glendower and Lord Mortimer where

    Douglas and "our powers at once,- / As I will fashion it,-shall happily meet," (Line 298) to fightunited against King Henry described as "much uncertainty" (Line 300).

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    King Henry IV, Part I Characters guide studies each character's role and motivation in

    this play.

    King Henry IV: Rising to power by replacing King Richard II (See Shakespeare's Richard II),

    King Henry IV has seen recent civil strife or war take its toll on his country. He is saddened that

    brother had fought brother and is anxious to unite his people under an already much delayedreligious crusade.

    The threat of rebellion from the Percy family and the capture of Mortimer force him to againdelay his plans. On a personal level, King Henry IV is saddened that his son, Prince Henry lacks

    what he feels are the qualities required of a future king. He worries that Hal is wasting his life

    and fears that those like Hotspur who earn the people's admiration are more likely to succeedhim, not his own son.

    As a leader, King Henry IV is cautious but disciplined. He does not let Hotspur forget hisobligations to him and wisely offers the rebels generous terms for their surrender to avoid war.

    King Henry IV also appears to be cunning, placing many look-alikes to himself on the battlefieldto confuse the rebels...

    Henry, Prince of Wales: Also known as Prince Henry, Prince Hal Hal, or as his father King

    Henry IV addresses him, Harry, Hal shows the greatest character development in this play.Originally apathetic to the affairs of state, Hal prefers instead to pass time with thieves Gadshill,Peto, Falstaff, Poins and Bardolph. However we quickly learn from Hal's first soliloquy that this

    is merely an act, he is acutely aware of the bad company he keeps, but prefers to show his true

    colors when necessary, wisely concluding that because expectations of him are so low, hisaccomplishments when shown will shine that much brighter.

    Willing to laugh at his friend's expense, Hal is honest, reimbursing those robbed by his friendsand humble, wishing to be valued by his own actions not his royal title. Nonetheless, Hal appears

    to enjoy the immunity his title confers, allowing him to do what others may not (steal) without


    Though confident of his abilities, Hal's envy of Hotspur suggests he is not completely confident,

    since Hal needs to compare himself to others. When called to fight the rebellion, Hal comes ofage, shedding his apathetic ways, even enlisting Falstaff his thieving friend to fight, symbolic of

    Hal finally accepting and assuming responsibility for himself and others.

    When Hal advises his father King Henry IV, that the rebellion will not accept King Henry's

    pardon offer, we see Hal's insight and later on the battlefield his prowess and nobility (respecting

    Hotspur). Indeed it may be argued that Hal comprises two characters, one before the rebellion

    and one after it...

    John of Launcelot: King Henry's other son, his role in the play is minor, limited chiefly to thatof messenger...

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    Earl of Westmoreland: An ally of King Henry, his forces fight on the side of King Henry IV.

    Sir Walter Blunt: Another loyal man to King Henry IV, Sir Walter Blunt, disguised as KingHenry IV is slain by Douglas on the battlefield. Also responsible for communicating King

    Henry's first offer of pardon to the rebels for stopping their rebellion.

    Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland: The senior Percy in the rebellion against King Henry,

    he like his son Hotspur, initially apologizes to King Henry for withholding prisoners to him but

    later joins the rebellion against King Henry. Unavailable to fight King Henry IV owing to illness,his son must fight the King Henry's forces without him...

    Henry Percy surnamed Hotspur, son of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland: Described

    as valiant, courageous and brave, Hotspur is a source of pride for his father, Henry Percy and one

    of regret for King Henry IV who sees his own son Hal, as lacking compared to Hotspur. Rash

    and blind in the face of defeat, Hotspur blindly ignores bad news when it continuously confrontshim as seen in Act V when reports suggest he will be increasingly outnumbered on the

    battlefield. Renowned on the battlefield for defeating the Scot Douglas whom later joins him inthe rebellion against King Henry IV.

    Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester: Known in the play as Worcester, this rebel denied Hotspur

    any knowledge of King Henry's generous terms to the rebels to avoid war. Though Sir RichardVernon disagreed, Worcester's position prevailed and Hotspur fought King Henry, none thewiser that King Henry IV had made an offer to avoid bloody conflict. At the end of the play,

    Worcester along with Sir Richard Vernon are put to death.

    Sir Richard Vernon: Another rebel against King Henry IV, Vernon opposed Worcester's plan

    to deny Hotspur any knowledge of King Henry's generous terms for ending the rebellion in Act

    V, Scene II; a decision that leads to the defeat of Hotspur's forces and ultimately to Worcester'sand Vernon's demise when King Henry decides to have these rebels put to death.

    Archibald, Earl of Douglas: Described as a vile Scot, he is initially introduced to us as the man

    Hotspur defeated at Holmedon when Hotspur was still fighting on the side of King Henry IV.

    Later in the play he joins the rebellion against King Henry, fighting side by side with Hotspur,

    the man who defeated his forces in Act I.

    In Act V, Douglas kills Sir Walter Blunt thinking he is King Henry and nearly kills the real King

    Henry until Hal drives him off. Douglas nearly kills Hal's friend Falstaff but Falstaff feigns deathand Douglas moves on. When the rebels are defeated, Hal gives Douglas his freedom for his

    noble manner, whilst Vernon and Worcester are put to death.

    Richard Scroop: The Archbishop of York, Scroop is also involved in the rebellion. He does not

    fight but in a conversation with Sir Michael his friend, reveals that he does not believe the

    rebellion will succeed when first the Earl of Northumberland (Henry Percy), and OwenGlendower's forces become unavailable to fight. In Act V, Scene V, we learn that his forces are

    gathering with those of Northumberland's for future war against King Henry (See Henry IV Part

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    Sir Michael: A friend to the Archbishop of York.

    Owen Glendower: A key figure in the rebellion along with Douglas, Hotspur, The Earl of

    Northumberland and the Archbishop of York, Glendower initially fought against King Henry'sforces led by Mortimer. Later it is revealed that Mortimer, taken prisoner by Glendower, had

    oined the rebellion. Glendower's forces do not make it to the final battle since they needed two

    more weeks to gather dooming Douglas and Hotspur to near certain defeat against King Henry inAct V.

    Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March: Hotspur's brother in law and a key figure in the rebellion.

    Originally fighting Glendower on King Henry's behalf, Mortimer is captured by Glendower and

    is one of the reasons King Henry IV again delays his religious crusade.

    Mortimer arguably is also a contributing cause for the rebellion as he is the reason King Henry

    believes Hotspur refused to hand over prisoners to him. Along this line of thought, King Henrybelieved Hotspur was holding the prisoners to lever King Henry into paying Mortimer's ransom,freeing him from Glendower.

    We later learn from King Henry that far from being a prisoner, Mortimer married Glendower'sdaughter, the daughter of his supposed enemy. This and the fact that Mortimer led a thousand

    men to their deaths to then join his "enemy" convinces King Henry to order the prisoners off

    Hotspur without paying Mortimer's ransom, angering Hotspur who later joins the rebellionagainst King Henry.

    Like the forces of Northumberland and Glendower, Mortimer's forces are unavailable to the

    rebels, sealing Douglas and Hotspur's fate of being defeated...

    Sir John Falstaff: Considered one of the most complex comic (and yet dramatic) characters ofShakespeare's plays, Falstaff has generated an enormous amount of academic discussion for what

    is admittedly a very peripheral character in this play.

    A leader of the gang of thieves, Hal spends time with for fun, Falstaff initially is introduced to us

    as a petty, though witty thief with little time for the responsibilities of the world, preferring like

    Hal to enjoy life without accountability and consequence instead.

    As Hal is forced into showing his maturity by the Percy rebellion, Falstaff too in unwittingly

    enlisted by Hal to lead a ragtag group of troops into battle. Forced into a position ofresponsibility, Falstaff shows great character development in his caring for and support for his

    men. When they quickly become decimated on the battlefield, Falstaff famously questions the

    value of honor if one dies to achieve it.

    A survivor above all else, Falstaff fakes his own death to avoid a real one at the hands of

    Douglas to later claim that he killed the already dead Hotspur. By this action we can seeFalstaff's pragmatism at work. He will not overlook gaining honor in battle if he can do so by

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    avoiding its risks.

    At the end of the play, Falstaff surprises Hal by being alive and later petitions him for a title forkilling Hotspur, one Hal who knows the truth, gladly agrees to

    A complex character, Falstaff is both comic and dramatic with a propensity and a real gift in hisability to both avoid trouble and negative judgment by his unending ability to redeem himself by

    his words and actions. He later reappears inKing Henry IV, Part II

    Poins: One of Gadshill's gang of thieves, Poins, along with Hal, mischievously plot to steal

    Falstaff and company's taking from a robbery so they can both enjoy Falstaff's lies for losing hisgroups' loot. This succeeds and we see little more of Poins in the play.

    Gadshill: Leader by name only (Falstaff is the real leader) of a group of petty thieves, Gadshill

    is also the location at which the Gadshill gang makes a robbery only to then be robbed by adisguised Hal and Poins.

    Peto: Member of Gadshill's gang.

    Bardolph: Member of Gadshill's gang.

    Lady Percy (Kate): The wife to Hotspur and sister to Mortimer, she shows a fine wit and a

    resistance to blindly loving her husband as does Lady Mortimer.

    Lady Mortimer: The daughter of Glendower and wife to Mortimer, her blind adoration of her

    husband, due in part to a language barrier (Mortimer speaks English, Lady Mortimer, Welsh),prompts Hotspur to wish his wife Kate was similarly as adoring of him, earning Hotspur instead,

    several icy comments in Act III, Scene I.

    Mistress Quickly: The Hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap, she argues with Falstaff

    over a bill, Falstaff says he has no money to pay. Her Tavern is a key location for dialogue

    between Poins and Hal and later Falstaff in Act II, Scene IV before the play's action turns topreparations and battle with the Percies in the second half of the play.

    Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers, two Carriers, Travelers, and


    King Henry IV, Part I Characters Analysis en


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    King Henry IV, Part I Characters Analysis features noted Shakespeare scholar William

    Hazlitt's famous critical essay about the characters ofKing Henry IV, Part I.

    IF Shakespear's fondness for the ludicrous some-times led to faults in his tragedies (which was

    not often the case) he has made us amends by the character of Falstaff. This is perhaps the most

    substantial comic character that ever was invented. Sir John carries a most portly presence in themind's eye; and in him, not to speak it profanely, "we behold the fulness of the spirit of wit and

    humour bodily." We are as well acquainted with his person as his mind, and his jokes come upon

    us with double force and relish from the quantity of flesh through which they make their way, ashe shakes his fat sides with laughter, or "lards the lean earth as he walks along." Other comic

    characters seem, if we approach and handle them, to resolve themselves into air, "into thin air";

    but this is embodied and palpable to the grossest apprehension: it lies "three fingers deep upon

    the ribs," it plays about the lungs and the diaphragm with all the force of animal enjoyment. Hisbody is like a good estate to his mind, from which he receives rents and revenues of profit and

    pleasure in kind, according to its extent, and the richness of the soil. Wit is often a meagre

    substitute for pleasurable sensation; an effusion of spleen and petty spite at the comforts of

    others, from feeling none in itself. Falstaff's wit is an emanation of a fine constitution; anexuberance of good-humour and good-nature; an overflowing of his love of laughter and good-

    fellowship; a giving vent to his heart's ease, and over-contentment with himself and others. Hewould not be in character, if he were not so fat as he is; for there is the greatest keeping in theboundless luxury of his imagination and the pampered self-indulgence of his physical appetites.

    He manures and nourishes his mind with jests, as he does his body with sack and sugar. He

    carves out his jokes, as he would a capon or a haunch of venison, where there is cut and comeagain; and pours out upon them the oil of gladness. His tongue drops fatness, and in the

    chambers of his brain "it snows of meat and drink." He keeps up perpetual holiday and open

    house, and we live with him in a round, of invitations to a rump and dozen.Yet we are not to

    suppose that he was a mere sensualist. All this is as much in imagination as in reality. Hissensuality does not engross and stupefy his other faculties, but "ascends me into the brain, clears

    away all the dull, crude vapours that environ it, and makes it full of nimble, fiery, and delectable

    shapes." His imagination keeps up the ball after his senses have done with it. He seems to have

    even a greater enjoyment of the freedom from restraint, of good cheer, of his ease, of his vanity,in the ideal exaggerated description which he gives of them, than in fact. He never fails to enrich

    his discourse with allusions to eating and drinking, but we never see him at table. He carries his

    own larder about with him, and he is himself "a tun of man." His pulling out the bottle in thefield of battle is a joke to shew his contempt for glory accompanied with danger, his systematic

    adherence to his Epicurean philosophy in the most trying circumstances. Again, such is his

    deliberate exaggeration of his own vices, that it does not seem quite certain whether the account

    of his hostess's bill, found in his pocket, with such an out-of-the-way charge for capons and sackwith only one halfpenny-worth of. bread, was not put there by himself as a trick to humour the

    est upon his favourite propensities, and as a conscious caricature of himself. He is represented as

    a liar, a braggart, a coward, a glutton, etc., and yet we are not offended but delighted with him;for he is all these as much to amuse others as to gratify himself. He openly assumes all these

    characters to shew the humourous part of them. The unrestrained indulgence of his own ease,

    appetites, and conveni-ence, has neither malice nor hypocrisy in it. In a word, he is an actor inhimself almost as much as upon the stage, and we no more object to the character of Falstaff in a

    moral point of view than we should think of bringing an excellent comedian, who should

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    represent him to the life, before one of the police offices. We only consider the number of

    pleasant lights in which he puts certain foibles (the more pleasant as they are opposed to the

    received rules and necessary restraints of society), and do not trouble ourselves about theconsequences re-sulting from them, for no mischievous consequences do result. Sir John is old as

    well as fat, which gives a melancholy retrospective tinge to the character; and by the disparity

    between his inclinations and his capacity for enjoyment, makes it still more ludicrous andfantastical.

    The secret of Falstaff's wit is for the most part a masterly presence of mind, an absolute self-possession, which nothing can disturb. His repartees are involuntary suggestions of his self-love;

    instinctive evasions of everything that threatens to interrupt the career of his triumphant jollity

    and self-complacency. His very size floats him out of all his difficulties in a sea of rich conceits;

    and he turns round on the pivot of his convenience, with every occasion and at a moment'swarning. His natural repugnance to every unpleasant thought or circumstance, of itself makes

    light of objections, and provokes the most extravagant and licentious answers in his own

    ustification. His indifference to truth puts no check upon his invention, and the more improbable

    and unexpected his contrivances are, the more happily does he seem to be delivered of them, theanticipation of their effect acting as a stimulus to the gaiety of his fancy. The success of one

    adventurous sally gives him spirits to undertake another: he deals always in round numbers, andhis exaggerations and excuses are "open, palpable, monstrous as the father that begets them." Hisdissolute carelessness of what he says discovers itself in the first dialogue with the Prince.

    "Falstaff. By the Lord, thou say'st true, lad; and is notmine hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?

    P. Henry. As the honey of Hibia, my old lad of the

    castle; and is not a buff-jerkin a most sweet robe ofdurance?

    Falstaff. How now, how now, mad wag, what in thy

    quips and thy quiddities? what a plague have I to do with

    a buff-jerkin?P. Henry. Why, what a pox have I to do with mine

    hostess of the tavern?"

    In the same scene he afterwards affects melancholy, from pure satisfaction of heart, and

    professes reform, because it is the farthest thing in the world from his thoughts. He has no

    qualms of conscience, and therefore would as soon talk of them as of anything else when thehumour takes him.

    "Falstaff, But, Hal, I pr'ythee trouble me no more withvanity. I would to God thou and I knew where a com-

    modity of good names were to be bought: an old lord of

    council rated me the other day in the street about you, sir;

    but I mark'd him not, and yet he talked very wisely, andin the street too.

    P. Henry. Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the

    street, and no man regards it.

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    Falstaff. O, thou hast damnable iteration, and art indeed

    able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm unto

    me, Hal; God forgive thee for it. Before I knew thee,Hal, I knew nothing, and now I am, if a man should speak

    truly, little better than one of the wicked. I must give over

    this life, and I will give it over, by the Lord; an I do not,I am a villain. I'll be damned for never a king's son inChristendom.

    P. Henry. Where shall we take a purse to-morrow, Jack?

    Falstaff. Where thou wilt, lad, I'll make one ; an I donot, call me villain, and baffle me.

    P. Henry. I see good amendment of life in thee, from

    praying to purse-taking.

    Falstaff. Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal. 'Tis no sinfor a man to labour in his vocation."

    Of the other prominent passages, his account of his pretended resistance to the robbers, "whogrew from four men in buckram into eleven" as the imagination of his own valour increased with

    his relating it, his getting off when the truth is discovered by pretending he knew the Prince, thescene in which in the person of the old king he lectures the Prince and gives himself a goodcharacter, the soliloquy on honour, and description of his new-raised recruits, his meeting with

    the chief justice, his abuse of the Prince and Poins, who overhear him, to Doll Tearsheet, his

    reconciliation with Mrs. Quickly who has arrested him for an old debt, and whom he persuadesto pawn her plate to lend him ten pounds more, and the scenes with Shallow and Silence, are all

    inimitable. Of all of them, the scene in which Falstaff plays the part, first, of the King, and then

    of Prince Henry, is the one that has been the most often quoted. We must quote it once more in

    illustration of our remarks.

    "Falstaff. Harry, I do not only marvel where thou spendest thy time, but also how thou art

    accompanied: for though the camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth,the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears. That thou art my son, I have partly thy mother's word,

    partly my own opinion; but chiefly, a villainous trick of thine eye, and a foolish hanging of thy

    nether lip, that doth warrant me. If then thou be son to me, here lies the point;Why, being sonto me, art thou so pointed at? Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher, and eat

    blackberries? A question not to be ask'd. Shall the son of England prove a thief, and take purses?

    a question not to be ask'd. There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and it isknown to many in our land by the name of pitch: this pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth

    defile; so doth the company thou keepest: for, Harry, now I do not speak to thee in drink, but in

    tears; not in pleasure, but in passion; not in words only, but in woes also:and yet there is a

    virtuous man, whom I have often noted in thy company, but I know not his name.P. Henry. What manner of man, an it like your majesty?

    Falstaff. A goodly portly man, i'faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a

    most noble carriage; and, as I think, his age some fifty, or, by'r-lady, inclining to threescore; and

    now I do remember me, his name is Falstaff: if that man should be lewdly given, he deceivethme; for, Harry, I see virtue in his looks. If then the fruit may be known by the tree, as the tree by

    the fruit, then peremptorily I speak it, there is virtue in that Falstaff: him keep with, the rest

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    banish. And tell me now, thou naughty varlet, tell me, where hast thou been this month?

    P. Henry. Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand for me, and I'll play my father.

    Falstaff. Depose me? if thou dost it half so gravely, so majestically, both in word and matter,hang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker or a poulterer's hare.

    P. Henry. Well, here I am set.

    Falstaff. And here I stand:judge, my masters.P. Henry. Now, Harry, whence come you?Falstaff. My noble lord, from Eastcheap.

    P. Henry. The complaints I hear of thee are grievous.

    Falstaff. S'blood, my lord, they are false:nay, I'll tickle ye for a young prince, i'faith.P. Henry. Swearest thou, ungracious boy? henceforth ne'er look on me. Thou art violently carried

    away from grace: there is a devil haunts thee, in the likeness of a fat old man; a tun of man is thy

    companion. Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of

    beastliness, that swoln parcel of dropsies, that huge bom-bard of sack, that stuft cloak-bag ofguts, that roasted Manning-tree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey

    iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink

    it? wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it? wherein cunning, but in craft?wherein crafty, but in villainy? wherein villainous, but in all things? wherein worthy, but in


    Falstaff. I would, your grace would take me with you;

    whom means your grace?P. Henry. That villainous, abominable mis-leader of

    youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan.

    Falstaff. My lord, the man I know.P. Henry. I know thou dost.

    Falstaff. But to say, I know more harm in him than in myself, were to say more than I know.

    That he is old (the more the pity) his white hairs do witness it: but that he is (saving your

    reverence) a whore-master, that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked!if to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damned: if to be fat be to be

    hated, then Pharaoh's lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord; banish Peto, banish Bardolph,

    banish Poins: but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant JackFalstaff, and therefore more valiant, being as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry's

    company; banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

    P. Henry. I do, I will.[Knocking; and Hostess and Bardolph go out.

    Re-enter BARDOLPH, running,

    Bardolph. O, my lord, my lord; the sheriff, with a most monstrous watch, is at the door.

    Falstaff. Out, you rogue! play out the play: I have much to say in the behalf of that Falstaff." Oneof the most characteristic descriptions of Sir John is that which Mrs. Quickly gives of him when

    he asks her "What is the gross sum that I owe thee?"

    "Hostess. Marry, if thou wert an honest man, thyself, and the money too. Thou didst swear to me

    upon a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire on

    Wednesday in Whitsunweek, when the Prince broke thy head for likening his father to a singing

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    man of Windsor; thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and

    make me my lady thy wife. Canst thou deny it? Did not goodwife Keech, the butcher's wife,

    come in then, and call me gossip Quickly? coming in to borrow a mess of vinegar, telling us, shehad a good dish of prawns; whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby I told thee they were

    ill of a green wound? And didst thou not, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to be no

    more so familiarity with such poor people; saying, that ere long they should call me madam?And didst thou not kiss me, and bid me fetch thee thirty shil-lings? I put thee now to thy book-oath; deny it, if thou canst."

    This scene is to us the most convincing proof of Falstaff's power of gaining over the good will of

    those he was familiar with, except indeed Bar-dolph's somewhat profane exclamation on hearing

    the account of his death, "Would I were with him, wheresoe'er he is, whether in heaven or hell."

    One of the topics of exulting superiority over others most common in Sir John's mouth is his

    corpulence and the exterior marks of good living which he carries about him, thus "turning his

    vices into commodity." He accounts for the friend-ship between the Prince and Poins, from "their

    legs being both of a bigness," and compares Justice Shallow to "a man made after supper of acheese-paring." There cannot be a more striking grada-tion of character than that between

    Falstaff and Shallow, and Shallow and Silence. It seems diffi-cult at first to fall lower than thesquire; but this fool, great as he is, finds an admirer and humble foil in his cousin Silence. Vain

    of his acquaintance with Sir John, who makes a-butt of him, he exclaims, "Would, cousin

    Silence, that thou had'st seen that which this knight and I have seen!"-" Aye, Master Shallow, we

    have heard the chimes at midnight," says Sir John. To Falstaff's observation, "I did not thinkMaster Silence had been a man of this mettle," Silence answers, "Who, I? I have been merry

    twice and once ere now." What an idea is here conveyed of a prodigality of living? What good

    husbandry and economical self-denial in his pleasures? What a stock of lively recollections? It iscurious that Shakespear has ridiculed in Justice Shallow, who was "in some authority under the

    king," that disposition to unmeaning tautology which is the regal infirmity of later times, and

    which, it may be supposed, he acquired from talking to his cousin Silence, and receiving no


    "Falstaff. You have here a goodly dwelling, and a rich.Shallow. Barren, barren, barren; beggars all, beggars

    all, Sir John; marry, good air. Spread Davy, spread Davy.

    Well said, Davy.

    Falstaff. This Davy serves you for good uses.Shallow. A good varlet, a good varlet, a very good varlet.

    By the mass, I have drank too much sack at supper. A

    good varlet. Now sit down, now sit down. Come, cousin."

    The true spirit of humanity, the thorough knowledge of the stuff we are made of, the practical

    wisdom with the seeming fooleries in the whole of the garden-scene at Shallow's country-seat,

    and just before in the exquisite dialogue between him and Silence on the death of old Double,have no parallel anywhere else. In one point of view, they are laughable in the extreme; in

    another they are equally affecting, if it is affecting to shew what a little thing is human life, what

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    a poor forked creature man is!

    The heroic and serious part of these two plays founded on the story of Henry IV. is not inferior tothe comic and farcical. The characters of Hotspur and Prince Henry are two of the most beautiful

    and dramatic, both in themselves and from contrast, that ever were drawn. They are the essence

    of chivalry. We like Hotspur the best upon the whole, perhaps because he was unfortunate.Thecharacters of their fathers, Henry IV. and old Northumberland, are kept up equally well. Henry

    naturally succeeds by his prudence and caution in keeping what he has got: Northumberland fails

    in his enterprise from an excess of the same quality, and is caught in the web of his own cold,dilatory policy. Owen Glendower is a masterly character. It is as bold and original as it is

    intelligible and thoroughly natural. The disputes between him and Hotspur are managed with

    infinite address and insight into nature. We cannot help pointing out here some very beautiful

    lines, where Hotspur de-scribes the fight between Glendower and Mortimer.

    "When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank,

    In single opposition hand to hand,

    He did confound the best part of an hourIn changing hardiment with great Glendower:

    Three times they breath'd, and three times did they drink,Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;

    Who then affrighted with their bloody looks,

    Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,

    And hid his crisp head in the hollow bank,Blood-stained with these valiant combatants."

    The peculiarity and the excellence of Shakespear's poetry is, that it seems as if he made hisimagination the hand-maid of nature, and nature the plaything of his imagination. He appears to

    have been all the characters, and in all the situations he describes. It is as if either he had had alltheir feelings, or had lent them all his genius to express themselves. There cannot be strongerinstances of this than Hotspur's rage when Henry IV. forbids him to speak of Mortimer, his

    insensibility to all that his father and uncle urge to calm him, and his fine ab-stracted apostrophe

    to honour, "By heaven, me-thinks it were an easy leap to pluck bright honour from the moon,"etc. After all, notwithstanding the gallantry, generosity, good temper, and idle freaks of the mad-

    cap Prince of Wales, we should not have been sorry if Northumberland's force had come up in

    time to decide the fate of the battle at Shrewsbury; at least, we always heartily sympathise with

    Lady Percy's grief, when she exclaims,

    "Had my sweet Harry had but half their numbers,

    To-day might I (hanging on Hotspur's neck)Have talked of Monmouth's grave."

    The truth is, that we never could forgive the Prince's treatment of Falstaff; though perhapsShakespear knew what was best, according to the history, the nature of the times, and of the man.

    We speak only as dramatic critics. Whatever terror the French in those days might have of Henry

    V., yet, to the readers of poetry at present, Falstaff is the better man of the two. We think of himand quote him oftener.

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    King Henry IV, Part I Essay en


    Act i. sc. i. King Henry's speech:

    o more the thirsty entrance of this soil

    Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood.

    A MOST obscure passage: but I think Theobald's inter-pretation right, namely, that 'thirsty

    entrance' means the dry penetrability, or bibulous drought, of the soil. The obscurity of thispassage is of the Shakspearian sort.

    Ib. sc. 2. In this, the first introduction of Falstaff, observe the consciousness and theintentionality of his wit, so that when it does not flow of its own accord, its absence is felt, and

    an effort visibly made to recall it. Note also throughout how Falstaff's pride is gratified in the

    power of influencing a prince of the blood, the heir apparent, by means of it. Hence his dislike toPrince John of Lancaster, and his mortification when he finds his wit fail on him:

    P. John. Fare yon well, Falstaff : I, in my condition, Shall better speak of you than you deserve.Fal. I would you had but the wit; 'twere better than your dukedom.Good faith, this same young

    sober-blooded boy doth not love me;nor a man cannot make him laugh.

    Act ii. sc. i. Second Carrier's speech:

    .... breeds fleas like a loach.

    Perhaps it is a misprint, or a provincial pronunciation, for 'leach,' that is, blood-suckers. Had itbeen gnats, instead of fleas, there might have been some sense, though small probability, in

    Warburton's suggestion of the Scottish 'loch. Possibly 'loach,' or 'hitch,' may be some lost word

    for dovecote, or poultry-lodge, notorious for breeding fleas. In Stevens's or my reading, it should

    properly be 'loaches,' or 'leeches,' in the plural; except that I think I have heard anglers speak oftrouts like a salmon.

    Act iii. sc. i.

    Glend. Nay, it you melt, then will she run mad.

    This 'nay' so to be dwelt on in speaking, as to be equiva-lent to a dissyllable -u, is characteristicof the solemn Glendower; but the imperfect line

    She bids you On the wanton rushes lay you down, &c.

    is one of those fine hair-strokes of exquisite judgment peculiar to Shakspeare;thus detaching

    the Lady's speech, and giving it the individuality and entireness of a little poem, while he draws

    attention to it.

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