Every minute now
Should be the father of some stratagem:
The times are wild: contention, like a horse
Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose
And bears down all before him.
A history play by William Shakespeare
. It is the second in a duology (the first being Henry IV Part 1
), and is a prequel, of sorts, to the far more famous Henry V
. Part 2 has a much darker tone than Part 1, mostly due to the somewhat tragic ending.
The play begins with returning fan-favourite character Sir John Falstaff, a fat drunken rogue and friend of Hal's. He banters with his page over the quality of his urine, which has been sent to the doctor for analysis. He then announces he's off to the whorehouses for some fun. He spends much of the rest of the play cracking jokes, taking bribes from draft dodgers, and drinking with his buddies.
Meanwhile, conflict brews between King Henry IV and his son, Prince Hal. After their victory in the Battle of Shrewsbury last play, they are gearing up for another confrontation against the king's remaining enemies. Despite his efforts in Part 1, Hal still doesn't have his father's trust because he remains friends with Falstaff and his ilk. This mistrust is deepened when Hal's brother, Prince John, defeats the remaining enemies through political know-how and manipulation instead of battle. Hal no longer has any way to prove himself worthy to his father.
King Henry IV suddenly falls ill. He passes out in his bed, and a visiting Hal mistakes his sleep for death. He swears to his father's "corpse" he will be a good king and takes the crown from off the king's head, leaving. Henry IV wakes up to find his crown has been stolen, and he berates Hal for the theft, thinking he is only waiting for his father to die so he can become king. Hall gives an impassioned speech explaining why he took the crown and swearing that he will be a good king. Henry IV dies happily soon after, and Hal becomes King Henry V.
After spending most of the play apart, Falstaff and Hal meet again in the final scene of the play. Falstaff is extremely excited to hear the news of Hal's coronation, believing Hal will reward him, but instead, the new king flatly rejects his former friend. Hal likens his association with Falstaff to a bad dream he's just woken up from and proclaims that as king, he can no longer associate with thieves and drunks. He forbids Falstaff from coming near him under pain of death, and continues on his parade, leaving Falstaff and all the other rogues devastated in his wake.
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, the BBC produced the play again as part of The Hollow Crown
, with Jeremy Irons
as Henry, Tom Hiddleston
as Hal and Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff.
This play provides examples of: