anna's Reviews > Henry IV, Part 2

Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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Jul 10, 12


This play was the third in a series of 8 which together formed Shakespeare’s masterful saga of 'History' plays chronicling the turbulent final century of the Plantagenet Dynasty from the deposition of Richard II in 1399 to the death of Richard III at Bosworth field in 1485.

Altogether, they have all the high drama of an epic saga with their vivid accounts of treachery, ambition, power, betrayal, feuding and war in an age of bloody upheaval.
If all this sounds gloomy and depressing, there are also colourful well-developed and memorable characters including the 'man mountain' plump and usually tipsy John Falstaff and the heroic Henry V as well as plenty of courage, chivalry and deeds of daring-do with a smattering of romance and humour.

Whoever said Shakespeare was boring? It should be said, however, that I could not fully appreciate these plays by simply reading them- they had to be seen as well. They are not, after all, novels, and reading through them in the way one would a book can be a tedious experience.

An increasingly unstable and insecure King Henry faces yet more rebellion and opposition from within and without.
Beset by failing health and troubled all the more by his conscience and fear of divine judgement upon him and his line for his crime of the deposition and murder of the rightful King.
The Earl of Northumberland and other nobles gather together their forces to make war against the King once again, but their readiness to negotiate proves fatal.
Meanwhile, Prince Hal still frequents the taverns of London, but his old friend Falstaff has come up with a new scheme to make gain money, prestige and hopefully the favour of the King and is the source of as much humour as before.
As King Henry's troubled reign comes to an end, however, Price Hal has some must mature to accept the great responsibility which is soon to be thrust upon him, even though it comes at the price of disowning his former companions of friends.

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