The Second Part of King Henry IV
The Second Part of King Henry IV is a play written by William Shakespeare, which goes along with his other play, The First Part of King Henry IV. Although a History, it has hardly any history, but only develops fictional characters (and a few real ones) who were introduced in Part One. The play depicts the end of the rebellion against King Henry IV and the ascension of Prince Hal to King Henry V. The play is third in the later terology by Shakespeare of English history.
The play begins with the aftermath of the battle of Shrewsberry. The old Earl of Northumberland hears many varrying accounts of the battle. He finds in the end though, that his son, Hotspur, is dead. He goes off to plan for further wars against King Henry IV. We then see Falstaff wanting money and seeking to borrow some. He is hailed as a war hero by gullibles and disapproved of by authorities. He prepares to leave to fight against another rebellion started by the Archbishop of York. The Archbishop himself plans to meet Prince John of Lancaster's forces. Meanwhile, the heir to the throne, Prince Hal, spends wasted time with Falstaff and other lude friends. He spends many long scenes jesting with them. The scenes end with news that they must to war against rebels. King Henry IV appears little, but makes his famous "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" speech. Falstaff manages to borrow money from a Justice Shallow, on the surety of his friendship with the Prince. Then, rebellion is again brought low by the King's forces. However, it is not won according to the rules of war. John of Lancaster tricks the rebel leaders into turning themselves in for execution. The rebellion is brought low, but shortly after King Henry becomes ill. He is worried that his son, Hal, will not honor his death or be a good ruler. His worries are further put to the test when his son tries on the crown. However, he and his son are reconciled and Henry's last advice is to occupy "gidy minds with foreign quarrells." Hal comes to the throne as King Henry V. He surprises the courtiers by maturing and banishing his disolute friends, such as Falstaff. Falstaff is deeply hurt by Hal's rejection and will die of a broken heart. The new king will soon bring English swords to France in the next play, The Famous Life of King Henry V.
King Henry IV: The weary, ill King of England. He worries about his son's bad behavior and company as well as the rebellion against him. He dies peacefully near the end of the play.
Prince Henry: Called Prince Hal by his friends. He spends his time in taverns. He is a good soldier, who has redeemed himself recently. He inherits the crown at the end of the play and dispenses with his former drinking friends.
Prince Thomas of Clarence: Younger brother of Henry; he does not appear much in the play.
Prince John of Lancaster: A prince and warrior. He defeats several rebels, who have risen against his father.
Prince Humphrey of Gloucester: The youngest of King Henry IV's sons.
Earls of Westmoreland, Warwick & Surrey: Nobles the court and knights of the battlefield. They aid King Henry in putting down the rebellion and comfort him.
Lord Chief Justice: An authority, who disapproves of Falstaff. He once arrested the Prince for striking him. He feared that when Henry would become King he would treat him badly. He is pleased by King Henry's new behaviour.
Earl of Northumberland: An old rebel, whose son, Hotspur, has been recently killed in battle. He retires to Scotland, where is defeated by John of Lancaster.
Archbishope of York: A leader of another confederacy against the King. He is tricked into surrendering his forces and then executed.
Lords Hastings & Mowbray: Both followers of the Archbishope of York. They are summarily executed.
Sir John Falstaff: Prince Hal's greatest friend and misleader. He drinks too much sack, but has a good wit. He is banished by Henry at the end of the play.
Bardolf, Poins & Peto: All idle drinkers and friends of Prince Hal. They continue to mislead him, but are also banished with Falstaff.
Pistol: A friend of Falstaff who talks much.
Shallow: A justice, from whom Falstaff borrows money.
Mistress Quickly: A widow and owner of a tavern in Eastcheap.
Lines and Quotes
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. -King Henry IV (Act III, Scene 1)
- Great Books: Shakespeare, Vol. 1, edited by William George Clarke and William Aldis Wright, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1952, pp. 467-502.
Open Source Shakespeare - Henry IV, Part 2