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

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  13,419 ratings  ·  441 reviews
Henry IV sits on a usurped throne, his conscience and his nobles in revolt, while his son Hal is immersed in a self-indulgent life of revelry with the notorious Sir John Falstaff. Shakespeare explores questions of kingship and honor in this masterly mingling of history, comedy, and tragedy.

Under the editorial supervision of Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s
ebook, 266 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Modern Library (first published 1598)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
David Sarkies
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 to be acted out. The printed plays seem to supplement the performances than to actually take their place, so when I came to read this play I search Youtube and discovered that the BBC versions of the history pla ...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
All right, this was my favorite Shakespeare for a long time, and I'm writing it up by itself because I think it's under-appreciated. (And believe me, I've had to spend a LOT of time with Bill.)

The play opens on Henry IV, who in his youth de-throned Richard II. Henry IV is now aging and faced with a band of rebels who may have legitimate grievances but are so disorganized it's a wonder their army forms a united front and not 100 million fistfights. Henry hasn't lost a covetous part of himself - h
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
I my no means want to steal the thunder of Madeline,who does a great job with these, but my friend requested some quirky summaries of my own interpretation on Shakespeare plays, and I thought I'd share.

Henry IV Part 1: Abridged

King Henry: Now that the civil war is all sewned up, we can invade Israel like good Christians.

Westmorland: No, the Welsh just launched another attack and noble Mortimore was captured by Glendower.

King Henry: Oh, shit.

Westmorland: On the bright side, young Harry “Hotspur”
Andrew LaBelle
Kids be like: "Shakespeare's histories all suck." And I just say: "Not all of them."

So it wasn't great. But it was rife with puns (sexy or otherwise), which is always a plus. And I enjoyed Prince Harry as a coming-of-age character, as well as Hotspur's being put in the ground. Lord! did he never stop talking. And it was like, two paralleled stories about thievery going on at the same time, which was like really cool.

"Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if Honour prick me off when I come on? how t
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
Megan Olsen
Again, full disclosure: I'm reading the text while watching "The Hollow Crown."

I loved this play. I loved King Henry's rumination about wanting to swap his unruly, disgraceful son with Hotspur. I couldn't help but remember that the King had been precisely in Hotspur's shoes just a generation prior, when he had been wronged by Richard. Perhaps that is why Hotspur is a natural rival for Hal's place in Henry's heart?

I felt a lot of sympathy for the northern rebels, probably because Shakespeare int
Aditya Mallya
This is a beautifully written play. Perfectly balancing comedy and drama, it is populated with some fascinating characters.

At the center of the story are two young warriors on opposite sides of a war - the hotblooded Hotspur and the morally mysterious Prince Henry of Wales. Shakespeare expertly sets up the conflict between the two, so that the reader is itching to see them face off against each other. Another interesting arc is that of the titular character himself - King Henry IV, so pugnacious
Read as I was performing Hotspur for a drama exam. Really enjoyed, liked the symmetry between Hal and Hotspur. However, I did feel it could have been brought out more - presumably with actors there could have been more physical response to the "love triangle" between King Henry, Hal and Hotspur. Overall very enjoyable and well written, although the ending was quite abrupt (obviously it continues in Part II, but I'm not quite sure how I would feel watching it on stage and it ending that abruptly! ...more
P.W. James

King Henry IV, Part 1. Henry IV, Part 1. Part 1. PART 1!

* * *

[Clueless, Toffy-Nose and Stubborn sit around a table, discussing what should be put on the VCE text list]

[Enter Old Bag]

Old Bag: Another year, another Shakespeare text needing to be replaced with another. What should it be?

Toffy-Nose: It needs to be difficult and loaded with convoluted historical facts and information.

Stubborn: Of course it does. [Stubborn thinks] It should also be a play that is second in a series of
Having not spent much time reading the histories, I had two faulty assumptions about them: the first was that they were dry and the second was that their purpose would be pedagogical- a little background about how the ruling parties came to be with the assumption that nothing would be included to offend the current ruling class. Another assumption one might take into Henry IV would be that it was actually about Henry IV, which also isn't exactly true.

To address the dry assumption quickly- any pa
J. Trott
I got to watch a great live performance and started reading it, because I had no familiarity with the story.

I found the total change of Prince Hal from skalwag to loyal brave son to be unbelievable. Shakespeare had to make him a good guy as he was the ancestor of the current king, but it's never great when a writer makes his characters unnatural for political expediency.

The play's best part is the comedic relief and Hal's dark past, the drinking buddies and hooligan ensemble. Falstaff is hilar
You may be wondering why I gave a Shakespeare play 3 out of 5 stars. I did enjoy the read. But there was something about reading Shakespeare after all these years since the last I read his work ('Julius Caesar' maybe 5 years ago), that surprised me. I wasn't as blown away by the themes and wordplay in this one as I was in the past. I think that's because I've read so much more since then, by authors undoubtedly influenced by his work in some fashion or another, that I'm finally ready for reading ...more
I only have to read part one for my class, but I think I'll read part two, too, in due course. Falstaff is amusing, and I rather enjoy Hal, too. I preferred it to Richard II, I think.

No need to say that I loved the language and thought it'd be even better on the stage. That's just Shakespeare for you.

(Why didn't I used to like Shakespeare? Probably because I repeatedly got Romeo & Juliet shoved down my throat, and his comedies aren't to my taste.)
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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!” 181 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…