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Henry IV, Part 2
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Henry IV, Part 2 (Wars of the Roses #3)

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  13,153 Ratings  ·  385 Reviews
FOLGER Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

Scene-by-scene plot summaries

A key to famous lines and phrases

An introduction to reading Shakespeare's lang

Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Simon Schuster (first published 1597)
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Bill  Kerwin

This is a much chillier, soberer world than the first part of Henry IV, lacking in both its good humor and its generosity. Falstaff is not nearly so funny apart from Hal, Prince John is a much icier foil than the mercurial Hotspur, and Hal himself--whom we wish to like--makes himself disagreeable by stealing his dying father's crown and snubbing the fat knight we love.

Yet Shakespeare, by subtle degrees, leads us to the point where we come to admire Hal and believe in his moral transformation. I
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, shakespeare, drama
“Virtue is chok'd with foul ambition”
- William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, Scene 1


I was recently at a book signing for Don Winslow's new book The Force and he brought up his life-long fascination with Shakespeare and how the Godfather books/movies (at least the first two) are basically a retelling of Shakespeare's Henry IV with the moral poles flipped (with Al Pacino playing Hal and Diane Keaton as a gender-bent Falstaff). I can run with that.

Anyway, Henry IV, Part 2 is fantastic. It
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't consider these plays as solitary occasions. I'm all teary-eyed.

Who knew I could shed tears for poor old Falstaff, even now? I mean, sure, he's a fool and a rascal and incorrigible, but at the core of it, he and Hal were friends, weren't they?

And yet, even while I hate Hal a little for his decision, I love him all the more for it and everything else. Truly, he was the best king. Not only very aware of his audience, but always playing to every side, learning the craft of people and of hard
Ahmad Sharabiani
Henry IV, Part 2 (Wars of the Roses, #3), William Shakespeare
Henry IV, Part 2 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed written between 1596 and 1599. It is the third part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and succeeded by Henry V. The play is often seen as an extension of aspects of Henry IV, Part 1, rather than a straightforward continuation of the historical narrative, placing more emphasis on the highly popular character of Falstaff and introducing other co
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The groundwork for this play that is full of morale and still some comic relief was given in the first part. As I said, there was a lot of history to tell so Shakespeare divided it up.

In this 2nd part, the battle of Shrewsbury is over, Hotspur is dead, Hal (King Henry IV's son) returns victorious. This part definitely focuses on Hal and his further passage from scandalous young bloke to a man of honour - and it is about Falstaff and how he falls from grace. This last bit can be seen most clearly
David Sarkies
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who have read Henry IV Part 1
Recommended to David by: Nobody, it's Shakespeare and it has Falstaff so I was bound to read it sometime
Shelves: historical
The prodigal prince returns
15 May 2013

In the particular edition of this play that I read the editors included and essay by Harold Jenkins (not that that name means anything to me) about whether Henry IV is two five act plays or one ten act play. Personally I don't care either way and would really not want to write a major thesis on that particular point, but that is probably because there is so much more with regards to Shakespearian plays, such as the nature of the human condition, and also th
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I really did expect to like this play much more than I did. I read somewhere that both plays had originally been one play, but that the Falstaff character proved so popular that Shakespeare split the play in two and added more Falstaff. This play doesn’t quite hang together as well as part one. I’m tempted to say something about sequels always being crap. In many ways this is the same story over again – but bizarrely Falstaff and Hal hardly meet in the play – they only meet as ‘friends’ once and ...more
Roy Lotz
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, anglophilia
This is the first of Shakespeare’s plays that fell completely flat for me. How could the world’s greatest dramatist write a play so singularly devoid of drama? The impending battle comes to naught; Falstaff wastes his time doing God-knows-what; and Prince Henry undergoes an instantaneous character development that is hard to believe, and even harder to approve of.

The two scenes of real conflict—when the dying king Henry IV thinks that Prince Hal is usurping the throne, and when the new king Hen
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't as good as the first part but it was still okay. Kind of lost interest due to there being so many characters and it all got a little hard to follow but I did really like the ending!
Cindy Rollins
Love, love, love the themes of this play so excellently handled in all their joys and sorrows.
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This second part was still enjoyable despite not being as funny as the first, and the humour being a bit cruder in my opinion. Falstaff is the same as before, but this time round he's less amusing in comparison, because by now everyone is sobering up and changing but him, who clings to his buffoonery and is made to pay for it at last. We do learn a little more of his background story, however, with the revelation that he'd not always been the libertine he currently is and that he served Mowbray, ...more
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Sarah Anne
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, plays
Well, I finished! This play has a whole hell of a lot of characters and I totally couldn't keep track of who was on which side. This was not the one to read when I've had five hours of sleep per night for three weeks and I have an attention span about like a gnat.

Must reread at some point.
Elena Sala
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre, shakespeare
HENRY IV, Part 2, is a "sequel", in the modern sense of the term, to HENRY IV, Part 1. This play again puts on stage Prince Hal, Henry IV's son, and the witty John Falstaff as well as all the characters we met in the first part.
Henry IV is dying. Prince Hal has proved himself as a great soldier. However, he still seems to consort with prostitutes and tavern dwellers. Falstaff status in the world has gone up (a little). He spends most of his time drinking and bragging about his relationship with
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
King Henry IV Part Two ends in transition, both for the English political atmosphere and for the central characters. Part of this transition takes place in the audiences' perspective. We witness the rise of a young prince and the deterioration of an illegitimate king amidst the fog of civil war. And yet Shakespeare twists the end. The truly naive patron cannot predict precisely how these events will resolve. I did not imagine King Henry IV repenting the means of his ascension, nor did I imagin ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
The Folger library edition is a very fine edition; if I were rating strictly according to the quality of the scholarship shown here, I'd cheerfully rate the book at five stars. The play itself, however, is one of the weakest of Shakespeare's plays.

The plot isn't as vile as I find the plot in the Taming of the Shrew; the misogyny displayed here is of the common, garden variety of the misogyny found throughout Shakespeare, rather than the exceptional, "beyond the call of cultural duty" variety fo
Catherine  Mustread
I love the history plays — my interest in British history has been piqued!

Reading Shakespeare’s plays in the chronological order in which he is presumed to have written them I find his growth as playwright is in direct correlation to my appreciation of his plays; and to the blog, The Play's The Thing: Reading Shakespeare with Dennis Abrams, for making that possible.

Though Hotspur was important in the transition of Hal to Henry V, I found him to be a character for whom I had little sympathy. He
Akemi G
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-fiction, dramas
The commonwealth is sick of their own choice,
Their over-greedy love hath surfeited.

I wasn't very impressed with Part 1, and picked this up thinking it's the continuation of action-oriented drama peppered with obscene jokes. (Even guys who like watching action movies don't enjoy reading the screenplays, do they?) Well, it mostly is like that, but there is more insights in politics and life, as in Richard II.

Still, this drama doesn't even have a protagonist. The closest it comes is Falstaff; it ca
Once again, that missing fifth star is Falstaff's fault. I really can't stand him, and I think I disliked him even more this second time -- the scene with Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet most particularly. Otherwise this was wonderful.

Third time, and, unlike King Henry IV, Part 1, which moved up to five stars on my latest reading, this one still only earns four. Not that four is not good. But this play is just so sordid that, despite recognizing its merits (and, as always, I thank Ma
M. D.  Hudson
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, Shakespeare's histories are sort of new to me, I am embarrassed to say. I won't try to add my feeble little voice to 300 years of Shakespearian lit crit, but I must say Falstaff on the actual page is considerably crueler, pettier and meaner than his popular image would lead one to think. He is damned funny though.

Incidentally, my recent Shakespeare jag has been via a set of 1888 Plays edited by the Rev. Hudson (no relation, so far as I know). I didn't feel like screwing around finding th
John Pistelli
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, early-modern
A strange play, even disturbing. The first part was a crowd-pleaser, full of action, comedy, and strongly individualized characters representing ideologies and ways of life from which Prince Hal, on his path to the throne, will have to choose. In this second part, events prove anti-climactic; instead of a final battle with the rebels against the usurper Henry IV, we get a rather chilling scene in which Prince John tricks them into disbanding their army with promises of truce and then has them ex ...more
Diana Long
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the Arkangel full cast production of the play while reading the text from the Delphi Complete Works of Shakespeare. This is the second of King Henry and the third of the plays in the group. I found it just as witty as the other plays of Shakespeare and combined with the bawdy songs and capers pulled off with some of the characters like Folstaff a totally delightful play. In this play the Prince of Wales is confronted by his father the dying King and as the crown passes the Prince ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Still not a fan of Shakespeare's Histories. With the big edition of Shakespeare I'm reading, I pretty much have finished all the plays that I had no interest in reading beforehand. There maybe others, but for now they look interesting. I still read these though. Can have a goal of reading all Shakespeare and skipping ones. The next two in my book I will skip only because I read them before and don't feel the need to reread them. Even though I've given this book and others a less favorable star r ...more
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the four plays that make up Shakespeare's second history cycle, Henry IV Part 2 is the one that has most difficulty in existing as a stand-alone play. The very title informs the reader/audience that they have missed out something if they failed to at least read the first part. Similarly, the action of the play follows directly on from the earlier play, with the divisions and inter-relationships already in place.

This is one reason (though not the only one) why the play is the least satisfactor
Libby Stephenson
Aw, screw it, it's a 5
Fèe (^・ω・^✿)
I really enjoyed the first part but in this second part, apart from Falstaff's humour, nothing was interesting for me .
This Shakespeare play is one of the not-quite-so-brilliant Shakespeare plays, and thus the three stars. Look out for a review on Vintage Novels soon!
Jackson Cyril
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Unimitated, unimitable Falstaff!"-- so Dr Johnson described the most brilliant character in the Henry IV plays, and it is for Falstaff that we read these two plays today. The rest of the characters, who may be interesting, are wholly and utterly overshadowed by Falstaff's girth and genuine levity.
Anand Venigalla
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
Henry IV Part 2 isn't quite as exciting as the rousing and blockbuster showdown of Part 1. It's much chillier. Falstaff isn't as fun, though his rhetoric and prose is as full of the life principle as it was in Part 1. If I am not as enthused yet with Falstaff as Harold Bloom is, I do admire his characterization and his interesting fool-profundity, even as he is a thoroughly immoral character in many ways.

Mark Van Doren, in his book Shakespeare, has some words to say:

"No play of Shakespeare's is
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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
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Other Books in the Series

Wars of the Roses (8 books)
  • Richard II
  • King Henry IV, Part 1 (Wars of the Roses, #2)
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • King Henry VI, Part 2
  • King Henry VI, Part 3
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“Presume not that I am the thing I was.” 939 likes
“O sleep, O gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee. That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness?” 220 likes
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