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Henry IV, part 1 (Wars of the Roses #2)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  14,532 ratings  ·  483 reviews
Oxford School Shakespeare is an acclaimed edition especially designed for students, with accessible on-page notes and explanatory illustrations, clear background information, and rigorous but accessible scholarly credentials. In this edition of Henry IV Part 1, illustrations have been extended and updated; the preliminary notes have been expanded; reading lists have been u ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published April 1st 1965 by Signet Classics (first published 1598)
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Bill  Kerwin

I have read this play many times, and--although Shakespeare always shows me something new--this reading gave me little insight and few surprises. I was struck with two parallels, however--one within the play itself, and one within Shakespeare's body of work.

First of all, I appreciated the subtle parallels between the Hotspur-Glendower and the Hal-Falstaff scenes. Each young man spends much of his time needling a self-important, older man who is such a windbag that the audience is almost automat
David Sarkies
A prince gone wild
22 February 2013

Thank God for Youtube. As I have said before reading a Shakespearian play that I have not seen on either stage or screen can be a difficult task at best. In fact reading any play that I have not seen on stage or screen can be difficult, since they are generally not meant to be read but performed. The printed plays seem to supplement the performances rather than to take their place, so when I came to read this play I searched Youtube and discovered that the BBC
Dave Cullen
I love this play, and this edition. It's captivating and insightful, and I'm reading right after finishing "The Plantagenets," which I also recommend, and which teed it up nicely. (That book ends with Henry IV deposing Richard II, leading directly to the situation this play depicts.)

One problem with reading the history of the English kings is their stories tend to blur together after while. I've always been able to keep Henry II straight, because I watched "The Lion in Winter" 20 years ago, and
An absolutely brilliant and breathtaking work that is the perfect marriage of poetry, history, and wisdom. Falstaff may be one of the greatest creations of all literature, he is an astounding mix of hilarious wit, well-timed self-deprecation (or should we instead say, full of valour in discretion?), fervent loyalty (I feel the love-me-love-me-love-me need of a Golden Retriever here), and to top that off he stands as the ironic paradigm for honor and knighthood. From what we really know about kni ...more
Ken Moten
"Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere." Act V scene 4.

This is a story of 2 (3(4)) people. I really am out of my element analyzing this because it is a complete play about half of a story. Can't really say if Henry IV, Part 2 is a sequel though I suspect it is not. I will give my best summary of events so far.

This play again is a story of relationships in an ever shrinking geometric shape. We begin with the title character (one would do good to remember Richard II and Henry IV last enc
Another great one! If I remember right, the second part of Henry IV is not as great...I'll have to kinda slog through it on my way to Henry V, which at this point is like having sex with your wife. Henry V, not slogging through 2 Henry IV, I mean. I've read Henry V like fifty times and seen the movie at least five - my mom really liked that thing. That and Amadeus. Remember back when VCRs were for watching old movies instead of new ones? ("No, because I'm not a million years old like you." "Get ...more
Just as I did with Richard II, I read this while watching The Hollow Crown: King Henry IV, Part 1 (2012), starring Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale (who shone the brightest as Falstaff imo). They were both tremendous -- I very much enjoyed both reading the play AND watching the film.

My favourite passage has to be this one in particular:

(view spoiler)
I reviewed Richard II in January and decided at the time I would review all of the four plays in the series. A mere six months later I’m up to the second play – how hopeless is that? I intend to get through the next couple in what will seem (in comparison at any rate) to be me zipping along at a rate of knots.

I had to read this in high school – so thought I would be more familiar with it than it turns out that I am. There were things I remember very well – Falstaff’s ‘honour’ speech and Hal’s so
"Ah, whoreson caterpillars, bacon-fed knaves!"
I'm not really enjoying the history plays, but this line was enough for me to like this one.
Who knew that Shakespeare was the man who penned the first episode of Doctor Who with his creation of the character Falstaff! Falstaff is a man who can travel all of time and space, visiting anything that ever happened or ever will. Where can we start?

Falstaff makes his first appearance in this play, which takes place around 1402-03, landing in the midst of the historical battles of Humbleton Hill and Shrewsbury. He supposedly stays around, making a further appearance in this play’s sequel, Hen
I had a wonderful professor as an undergraduate who transferred his lifelong love of Shakespeare to me, no small task considering how wildly rebellious and impatient I was with things that were difficult. While the author's language has always been beyond reproach, I have only to look at my weathered volume of the Collected Works to see some of the comments I had made and realize that I had allowed something notable, from time to time, to slip past me.

This time, I downloaded a new copy and bega
Henry IV Part 1 continues the saga started by Richard II. While it is not exactly clear how far Shakespeare intended this to be a history cycle, there is some evidence for suggesting that he did. The play contains many allusions to events in the earlier play as well as picking up certain threads left over from it.

However, there is a large difference of tone here. True there is much that is majestic and tragic in Shakespeare's approach. However, whereas Richard II is written entirely in verse, He
Perry Whitford
Henry Bolingbroke became Henry VI by stealing the crown with force when Richard's attentions were elsewhere in Ireland, but as Shakespeare opens up his two-part history, Henry wants to forswear conflict in England:

'No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips from her own children's blood;
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flowrets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile paces.'

Oh, if only it were that easy! Immediately Henry finds himself a monarch at war as a
This could have been called Henry V: The Prequel. The life of Henry IV is secondary to the development of Prince Hal from over-privileged rich kid to heir apparent. Hal’s unprincipled father figure, Sir John Falstaff, is well known to be one of Shakespeare’s most engaging characters. Without shame, he lies, steals and drinks. When caught, he adroitly changes topics (or lies) and never pauses to worry about the consequences. Witnessing the development of the carousing Hal into Prince Henry can ha ...more
Andrea Lakly
I saw this performed by the company that performs at the Globe Theater in London. The performance was taped and the played back in movie theaters across the US. The first act is slow, but the end is very moving. Prince Hal (Jamie Parker) comes in to his own and accepts responsibility for the kingdom. Harry Percy(Sam Crane) is one of the beautiful people, and I cried tears of bloom when I realized he was going to die. Roger Allam played Falstaff in the production I watched, and he was AMAZING -- ...more
King Henry's frustration with his son Harry is easily understood, while I don't quite buy Harry's reasons for his bad behavior. Falstaff's lightheartedness & justifications make him one of my favorite Shakespeare characters.

Favorite quotes:
"I would to God thou and I knew where a commodity of good names were to be bought."

"Company, villanous company, hath been the spoil of me."

"I would be well content to entertain the lag-end of my life with quiet hours."

Rebellion lay in his way, and he found
John Pistelli
In the excerpt from The Plays of William Shakespeare collected in this volume, Dr. Johnson asserts that, "None of Shakespeare's plays are more read than the First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. Perhaps no author has ever in two plays afforded so much delight." In this first part, which follows Richard II, the new king is threatened with rebellion and usurpation in an echo of his own deposition of his predecessor. His main antagonist is the young Henry Percy, a formidable soldier nicknamed ...more
Every time I think I'm in danger of absolutely running out of things to say about the plays, I hit one that introduces something major. This one introduces Falstaff, Shakespeare's profound and melancholy buffoon. In addition, it has the rivalry between Prince Hal and Hotspur, and lastly and perhaps least interestingly, the ostensible main action, an uprising against Henry IV. The revolving and ritualistic power struggles that appear in all of these chronicle plays are the reason I've never made ...more
In preparation for the Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, I read this play in conjunction with watching the PBS series The Hollow Crown. (My arguments for reading the play versus seeing the play and having it count as having read the work can be found here and are also tied up here.)

Dear William,

Your words are like melted butter on warm toast (wheat for me, please). They are rich and creamy; running over in drippy, oily sweetness; nourishing and incredibly comforting even when liberally spread. A nib
Kral IV. Henry'nin ilk bölümünü oluşturan kitap, Wars of the Roses serisinin ikinci kitabı. Hikâye, II. Richard'ı tahttan indirip yerine geçen Bolingbroke'u yani nam-ı diğer Kral IV. Henry'inin tahta çıktıktan sonraki sürecini işliyor. Shakespeare bu seri ile hem Wars of the Roses döneminin İngiltere'sini başarılı bir dille anlatıyor hem de iktidar kavramını, iktidarın kaynağını, iktidara geldikten sonraki baştakilerin değişimlerini güzelce anlatıyor. Oyunun hikâyesi genel olarak tahtta çıktıkta ...more
I thought this was going to be a slog, being a history play and all, and, to my great surprise, found myself really, really enjoying it. There's something different about this history - it feels fresher, somehow. It's all the good that is Shakespeare, but in a different tone, through a different lens. Ought I use the term "real"? Or maybe, "less angsty" than those works of the traditional school-taught Shakespeare canon?

The melange of comedy and tragedy is subtler here, than, say, in Romeo and
Doesn't really get any better than this. I think this is the one history that bears comparison to the great tragedies. As I write this, I'm wondering where I belong in the Henry IV one play/two play dispute. Major play and minor sequel, or unified dramatic whole? I've read both plays before and I've seen them performed both separately and as a single narrative. Part One is a much tighter construction, with complementary characters and incidents that Shakespeare uses systematically to explore big ...more
You stiffly force the turn of the revolving door flanked by glass panels flashing the buzz of the downtown street. You traverse the shimmering lobby floor and sway with your shifting weight as you await the arrival of the elevator. When it arrives, you leap from the doors as a rush of people flood from the car. Then you enter, alone, light the button for the wrong floor, then the correct floor, and dance your hyper finger on the "Door Close" button. You relax, stare at the glowing numbers count ...more
Now this (Henry IV, Part I) is such an improvement over Richard II! It feels like there are legitimate consequences at stake here. Bolingbroke (now Henry IV), newly ascended to the throne, is hoping for a somewhat smooth transition into his reign. He even hopes to bolster support by going off to wage a holy war…but wait! More pressing matters at home prevent that, namely, a number of his lords are rebelling against him, challenging his claim to the throne. (For those keeping track, this is like ...more
Our culture has recently attuned to the problem of the man-child. Television and movies celebrate the cereal-eating, cartoon-watching, video-game-playing perceptual adolescent, and pundits warn of the precipitous drop of male employment and college education, especially among minorities. It's refreshing, then, to see Shakespeare tackling the same subject, and with the same paradoxes of the 21st century. We want men to be dutiful, to awaken to their potential and become serious, but we don't want ...more
Coming out of this play, I felt that it was not only a greasy story of a prince committing himself to an exile, but also a platform for the (still prevalent) question, "What is it that prepares a good leader at all?"

The play is really honestly wonderful, and I believe is one of the plays where Shakespeare really shows off his genius.
I read this after watching the BBC's Hollow Crown, so that may have influenced my perception of the characters, but am I the only person who dislikes Falstaff?? Yes, he is entertaining, but he is also incredibly self-serving and dishonest. However, my distaste for his character didn't mar my enjoyment of the story. I love the nuanced nature of the play, with the antagonist and protagonist serving as gallant foils for one another. I was honestly torn as far as which Harry to root for, an impressi ...more
Richard Leis
Reviewing the play, but the preface, genealogy, and footnotes were very helpful.

I did not know what to make of the play at first. It moves between three realms: the court of King Henry IV, the conspiracy of the Percys and other rebels, and the tavern where Prince Hal and Falstaff are up to no good. The tone is so different in each realm, that at first I had no idea how it was all connected. Of course, this is Shakespeare and his marvelous craft at work, slowly bringing the realms together while
What a fascinating play. Hal and Falstaff, a young man and a mentor -- of sorts -- as the young man approaches the inevitability of maturing into responsibility. The two plots, of a band of thieves and wastrels juxtaposed against the band of lords and warriors, were familiar and yet so well done. Hal is tricky, as he must be, I guess, living the life of a prince while well aware that life is short and that terms may change at any moment. Falstaff is witty and caring, while Hal cannot afford more ...more
James F
The last of the four plays I will be seeing in two weeks, this follows on Richard II, which I read and saw performed last year. The title is really misleading, as the two Henry IV plays are not about Henry IV but about his son, the future Henry V. (Some older writers simply referred to them as Falstaff, after the most interesting character.) As with many of Shakespeare's plays, critics disagree about everything from the theme to the nature of the characters, and it will be interesting to see how ...more
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
More about William Shakespeare...

Other Books in the Series

Wars of the Roses (8 books)
  • Richard II
  • Henry IV, Part 2 (Wars of the Roses, #3)
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • King Henry VI, Part 2
  • King Henry VI, Part 3
  • Richard III
Romeo and Juliet Hamlet Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream Othello

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“[Thou] mad mustachio purple-hued maltworms!” 185 likes
“I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off
And pay the debt I never promisèd,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt’ring o’er 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,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.”
More quotes…