Henry IV

Henry IV, Parts One and Two (No Fear Shakespeare)Henry IV, Parts One and Two by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In part 1, a play in itself, Henry has taken the throne but is uneasy since he usurped it from Richard II. He wants to go on crusade to unify his kingdom but has too much trouble with rebels on his borders (Scotland and Wales) and within from the Percy family and its firebrand son Hotspur. His own son, Harry, who will be Henry V, is carousing with Falstaff, which troubles him greatly.

But when battle is joined against the rebels, Harry shows his stuff and kills Hotspur. Falstaff also shows his stuff, cheating, deceiving and dishonorably avoiding fighting his way back home.

The second part of Henry IV is all about betrayals, some right and some wrong.
Rebels York, Northumberland, and Prince John all show the dastardly kind of betrayal, rising up against Henry again. The rebels betray each other as well, such that their strength is no longer enough to match the king. But on the other hand, Prince Harry does right to betray Falstaff in the end, who is expecting friendship and favors from the newly crowned king. Instead Henry V stands by the chief justice who locked him up once for his carousing. He deals well with his nobles, a promising beginning to a new reign.

When we act dishonorably we should not expect honor. We always have the opportunity to set aside folly and begin a life of loyalty to the virtuous.

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