A history play by William Shakespeare. It is the first in a duology, the second being Henry IV Part 2. It actually also relates to two other Shakespearean plays— Richard II (which it follows) and Henry V (which it precedes).Following the events in Richard II, Henry Bolingroke, now King Henry IV, wishes to wage a crusade to cleanse himself of the sin of Richard's death. It is not to be, as some of his former allies plot to overthrow him— chief among them the Percy family, whose son Harry (known as "Hotspur") is one of the greatest warriors in England.Looming war isn't King Henry's only problem, though. His son, Prince Harry (known as "Hal"), is a seeming good-for-nothing lout who surrounds himself with drunkards and rogues and rejects the royal life, preferring to play pranks and chase women. Hal's best friend is the old, fat, wily Sir John Falstaff, a bombastic drunk who provides much of the play's comedy.As King Henry and the Percy family wage a tense political battle, Hal and Falstaff get themselves into a number of comic situations. It is during one of these that Hal reveals his plot to the audience— he is playing the part of the foolish prince so that people will not expect much of him; that way, when he finally reveals himself as the great thinker and fighter he is, he will look much better by comparison.Eventually, the political tensions come to a head and the two sides face off in the Battle of Shrewsbury. Hotspur leads his forces boldly into fray; Hal swears his loyalty and love to his father and join the fight; Henry IV has a number of his soldiers dress as him to confuse the enemy; and Falstaff reaps profit from draft dodgers. At last, Hal and Hotspur meet in single combat, and Hal prevails.The play winds down with another comic scene with Falstaff (who tries to convince Hal he killed Hotspur), King Henry orders his enemies executed, and Hal generously pardons one of the soldiers from the opposing side. But wait! All is not well. The Archbishop of York and the Earl of Northumberland, along with a number of other nobles, have joined forces and still plot against Henry IV and Hal. To Be Continued in Henry IV Part 2.In 2010, a production of Henry IV at The Globe was filmed for DVD with Roger Allam as Falstaff and Jamie Parker as Hal. Allam won an Olivier Award for his performance. In 2012, it was the second production in the BBC's four-part series The Hollow Crown, with Jeremy Irons as Henry, Tom Hiddleston as Hal, Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff and Joe Armstrong as Hotspur.
This play provides examples of:
Agent Scully: Hotspur plays this role to his Welsh ally Glendower:
Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man.
But will they come when you do call for them?
A God Am I: Glendower pretty much believes he has superpowers and a deal with Satan. He dies off stage with little more than a passing reference to his illness.
Big Eater: Falstaff, of course. One of his (many) failings is gluttony.
Blood Knight: Hotspur who, unlike the mischief making prince, loves to fight.
Body Double: in the battle at the end of Part 1, the king has several. Symbolism ensues.
Boisterous Bruiser: Falstaff is one in temperament but not big on the whole fighting thing. Hotspur has some of these traits, and the historical Hotspur at least was very much like the insane Richard IV in Blackadder- played by BRIAN BLESSED.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Glendower believes he can summon demons, perform magic and heaven and earth shook on his arrival, he's also single handedly pushing the English out of Wales.
But He Sounds Handsome: Played with by Falstaff and Hal as they each pretend to be the king, praising themselves and slandering each other.
The Chains of Commanding: Henry's path to the throne and the subsequent problems that caused make him feel unsure sitting there.
Character Development: Invoked by Hal. Depending on how the director and actor choose to play it, Hal can be a static character who enacts a duplicitous plan over the course of the play, as revealed in his monologue in the first act; the plan mimics character development in the eyes of the other characters.
The Chessmaster: Hal, so great that he tricks even his father into thinking he's a fool.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Glendower spends the strategy meeting promising to use magic and demons to drive out the English forces.
Coming of Age Story: You can read this play as one of these for Prince Hal, or you can read it as Prince Hal tricking everyone into thinking it's one of these.
Hal in reality wasn't nearly as much of a scamp as he is in the play.
The confrontation between Hal and Hotspur never happened. However, in a case of Real Life exceeding fiction in awesomeness, Hal survived taking an arrow to the face during the Battle of Shrewsbury.
Owain Glyndwr was a Catholic who was cheated out of his lands and declared a traitor by a friend of King Henry causing him to take up arms and declare independance. Owen Glendower believes that he is a Warlock.
This is in England pre-Henry VIII. Everyone was a Catholic, because if you weren't a Catholic you were a heretic, which tend to be bad for one's health.
Harry Percy is an actual historical figure, but was a full generation older than Hal (indeed, he was three years older than King Henry), so the kind of comparison made here wouldn't have been sensible.
'Tis not due yet: I would be loth to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if Honour prick me off when I come on? how then? Can Honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is Honour? a word. What is that word, Honour? Air. A trim reckoning! — Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it sensible then? Yes, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it: therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere 'scutcheon, and so ends my catechism.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Doll Tearsheet. She plays more of a part in Part 2, but she often appears in Part 1 too, especially if the two parts are being performed back to back.
For worms, brave Percy: fare thee well, great heart! Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk! When that this body did contain a spirit, A kingdom for it was too small a bound; But now two paces of the vilest earth Is room enough: this earth that bears thee dead Bears not alive so stout a gentleman.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Initially, Falstaff was "Sir John Oldcastle", an actual historical figure who was burned at the stake for Lollardy, but Oldcastle's descendants complained, so Shakespeare substituted in the name of a knight who lived two generations after the play took place and was accused of cowardice (this character appears briefly in 1 Henry VI, where his name is usually rendered as "Fastolfe" by modern editors). A few remnants of the original name survive in the play—e.g., at one point Hal calls Falstaff "my old lad of the castle".
There are four Henrys: King Henry IV, his son Henry (Prince Hal), Henry Percy (Northumberland), and his son Henry (Harry "Hotspur"). This is remarked on and used as a point of comparison in-story (Henry wishes Hal had been traded for Hotspur, for instance) and is used for lots of symbolism out-of-story.
There's a Bardolph and an unrelated Lord Bardolph.
The Paragon Always Rebels: Hotspur is so admired by so many for his bearing and ideals and martial glory that the king himself wishes he were the true prince instead of his own son. Then he co-leads a rebellion...
Polly Wants a Microphone: Hotspur threatens to "have a starling shall be taught to speak nothing but 'Mortimer,' and give it" to King Henry.
Switched at Birth: Henry wishes out loud that Hal and Hotspur had been switched at birth.
Too Dumb to Live: Hotspur, who antagonizes an important ally over his mystical beliefs, tries to launch an attack when half of his army is absent, and, unlike everyone else in the play, honestly believes in chivalry and that they have the right to the throne, as opposed to it just being a power grab by his allies.
Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking: Hotspur repeatedly points out that he's a man of action, not pretty speeching. Even his "rousing speech" before the battle gets interrupted...twice. Contrasting this is Hal, who claims he is "so proficient in one quarter of an hour that I can drink with any tinker in his own language during my life," an ability that would serve the prince well when he became Henry V.
We Have Reserves: Invoked by Falstaff ("food for powder, food for powder") when Hal catches him recruiting people who have no business being on a battlefield. Hal is not amused.
Why Are You Not My Son: Hal's deviant behavior upsets his father so much that Henry IV tells him to his face he wishes the valiant, honorable Hotspur were his son instead, even if he is a rebel and the king's enemy. Even if Hal's wayward ways are part of a Batman Gambit long-game, that's gotta smart a bit.
Worthy Opponent: Hal seems to view Hotspur this way. The feeling is not reciprocated.