Henry IV Part 1

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Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Henry IV Part 1 published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood;
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flowerets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile places...
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
No more shall cut his master.

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.5-16
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of the play, England has just finished a great civil war. Out of the civil war, Henry IV has emerged victorious, cementing his status as the unquestioned monarch of England. Henry IV's victory in the civil war is crucial, because it establishes him as the strongest force in the land, and therefore, presumably, the man most deserving of the title of monarch.

But Henry IV does more than simply boast of his own military might. Rather, he frames his victory in the civil war as a victory for England as a whole. Cleverly, Henry presents himself as reinforcing the natural order of life, preventing his country's "children" from killing one another. In such a way, Henry plays the part of a kindly, loving father, implicitly accusing all his rivals to the throne of upsetting the natural order and causing undue bloodshed. (Henry's rhetorical maneuvers are crucial, because his own status as a monarch is rather questionable, since he began his career by overthrowing Richard II.)


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…thou mak’st me sad and mak’st me sin
In envy that my Lord Northumberland
Should be the father to so blest a son—
A son who is the theme of honour’s tongue,
Amongst a grove the very straightest plant,
Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride—
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him
See riot and dishnor stain the brow
Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle clothes our children where they lay,
And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker), Prince Hal (Henry, Prince of Wales), Hotspur (Henry Percy), Northumberland
Page Number: 1.1.77-88
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, King Henry IV criticizes his own child, who shares a first name with the child of Lord Northumberland: Henry. Half-seriously, half-jokingly, Henry IV wishes that his and Northumberland's children had been switched at birth: his own child is a disobedient youth, while Northumberland's child is proud and honorable.

Little does Henry IV that his child, Prince Hal, will grow up to be arguably the greatest of all English monarchs, Henry V. For now, though, Hal appears to be a disgrace to his family--he spends all his time goofing around and getting drunk. Henry IV is understandably upset that his child isn't a more accomplished leader, because he's thinking about his own legacy as a monarch; he needs a suitable male heir to ensure that his "line" will endure.

Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o’er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

Related Characters: Prince Hal (Henry, Prince of Wales) (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.215-224
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Prince Hal first demonstrates his status as a devious, skillful politician. Contrary to his father's beliefs, Hal is fully aware of his dishonorable behavior. Hal chooses to behave so badly, he claims, because ultimately his bad behavior will make his future honor and ascendancy to the throne of England more impressive. Basically, Hal wants to tell the best "story." An obedient, loyal child is no fun. But a disobedient child who becomes a great king--now that's a good story.

It's possible to interpret Hal's words ironically, of course. Like so many spoiled rich kids who never amount to anything, Hal might just be telling himself that he'll turn a new leaf somewhere down the line, despite the fact that he has no real ability to do so--what he thinks is just an act may have become his real character.

Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

With many holiday and lady terms
He questioned me; amongst the rest demanded
My prisoners in your majesty’s behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold—
To be so pestered with a popinjay!—
Out of my grief and my impatience
Answered neglectingly, I know not what—
He should, or should not—for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman

So cowardly, and but for these vile guns
He would himself have been a soldier.

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 1.3.47-66
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV tries to resolve a dispute with Hotspur, the young warrior for whom he has great respect. Hotspur has refused to turn over some prisoners of war to Henry IV. He explains that he's refused to turn them over because the messenger whom Henry IV sent to demand the prisoners was overly effeminate in his manner. Hotspur goes off, criticizing everything about the messenger.

The passage suggests that Hotspur isn't as great and honorable a leader as Henry IV has imagined: on the contrary, Hotspur is easily angered, and he allows his anger to cloud his judgment. Hotspur can't stand being around men who seem effeminate or cowardly--in other words, he's a great soldier but a pretty horrible diplomat. Hotspur is, as his name suggests, too hot-tempered to ever be much of a leader, except perhaps on the battlefield.

But shall it be that you, that set the crown
Upon the head of this forgetful man
And for his sake wear the detested blot
Of murderous subornation, shall it be,
That you a world of curses undergo,
Being the agents, or base second means,
The cords, the ladder, or the hangman rather?

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker), King Henry IV, Northumberland
Page Number: 1.3.164-170
Explanation and Analysis:

Hotspur confirms his status as an uncontrollable "loose cannon." Hotspur has just had a tense argument with Henry IV, the king. Now alone with his father, Northumberland, Hotspur continues to criticize the king, faulting him for being "forgetful" (forgetting how Hotspur's family helped him gain the crown) and traitorous. Hotspur is old enough to know that Henry IV has risen to power by killing the former king, Richard II. Hotspur even faults his own father for allowing himself to be humiliatingly "subordinate" to such a monarch.

In short, Hotspur isn't much of a politician, let alone a rhetorician. His speech is full of elaborate mixed metaphors and angry declarations. Hotspur's behavior illustrates what Henry IV is up against: a nation of unruly citizens who don't trust their new king.

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war,
And thus hath so bestirr’d thee in thy sleep,
That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow,
Like bubbles in a late-disturbed stream;
And in thy face strange motions have appear’d
Such as we see when men restrain their breath
On some great sudden hest. O, what portents are these?
Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,
And I must know it, else he loves me not.

Related Characters: Lady Kate Percy (speaker), Hotspur (Henry Percy)
Page Number: 2.3.58-67
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hotspur is preparing to instigate an all-out rebellion against King Henry IV. Hotspur's wife, Lady Kate Percy, notices that Hotspur is preparing for war of some kind, but doesn't understand what Hotspur is planning. Kate is perceptive enough to notice that Hotspur hasn't been himself lately: he's been sweating at all times, and making strange noises in his sleep.

Kate's observations are interesting because they paint a picture of what Hotspur is like when he's not on the battlefield. Hotspur, as we might have guessed, can't turn off his warlike instincts, even when he's around the people he loves. Lady Kate has no problem telling that Hotspur is planning something; a clear sign that Hotspur has no gift for lying or deception. The success of Hotspur's plan depends on his ability to mask his feelings--thus, the passage suggests that Hotspur's plans won't amount to much.

Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

I am so good a proficient in one quarter of an hour, that I can drink with any tinker in his own language during my life. I tell thee, Ned, thou hast lost much honor, that thou wert not with me in this sweet action.

Related Characters: Prince Hal (Henry, Prince of Wales) (speaker)
Page Number: 2.4.17-21
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage is a great example of how Prince Hal's experiences as a drinker and "party animal" actually prepare him well for the monarchy. Hal spends a lot of time in taverns, but he uses this time as an opportunity to hone his skills as a politician, a negotiator, and a communicator. Hal has become so adept at making friends with strangers that he can bond with anyone over a beer in just 15 minutes.

From the perspective of Hal's father, Henry IV, Hal's behavior is disgraceful, a mark of how far from the monarchy he really is. And yet we can already tell that Hal is a better politician than his father--he knows how to get along with his subjects and use words and rhetoric to get what he wants. Another important aspect of this is that he's hanging out with commoners--the kind of people the king actually rules, and who make up the majority of the country, but who in a typical monarchy have little to no contact with the royal court. Thus Hal seems surprisingly egalitarian and openminded in his ruling strategy, however "dishonorable" it might seem to the nobility.

Why, hear ye, my masters: Was it for me to kill the heir-apparent? should I turn upon the true Prince? why, thou knowest I am as valiant as Hercules: but beware instinct; the lion will not touch the true Prince. Instinct is a great matter; I was now a coward on instinct. I shall think the better of myself and thee during my life; I for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince.

Related Characters: Sir John Falstaff (speaker), Prince Hal (Henry, Prince of Wales)
Page Number: 2.4.279-286
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we meet Falstaff, who has just come from a skirmish with masked attackers--whom we know to be Prince Hal and his friends. Falstaff boasts about winning his encounter with the attackers, and offers various details about the skirmish. After Falstaff has bragged enough, Hal coolly reveals to Falstaff that he knows the truth: he was the one who attacked Falstaff. Surprisingly, Falstaff has no trouble recovering from his rhetorical setback: he backpedals and boasts about being perceptive enough to recognize Hal in disguise, and showing mercy to him because he recognized that he couldn't hurt the "true Prince."

Falstaff, is one of the most interesting characters in the play, famous for both his boorish comedy and his perceptive cynicism. Here he skillfully (if comically) "spins" his cowardice to look like discretion and intelligence, arguing that he's too honorable to touch Prince Hal. While some have interpreted Falstaff as a dishonorable, amoral character, it's difficult to deny Falstaff's charm--even when he's being a coward, Falstaff's gift for language entertains us. Moreover, Falstaff's deftness with language suggests that he's an important mentor for Prince Hal.

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

…at my nativity
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
Of burning cressets; ay, and at my birth
The frame and huge foundation of the Earth
Shaked like a coward.

Related Characters: Owen Glendower (speaker)
Related Symbols: Celestial Events
Page Number: 3.1.13-17
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Glendower has joined forces with Hotspur to conspire against Henry IV. Glendower insists that Henry has always had it out for him because he was born under a series of unusual signs: on the day Glendower was born the sky was full of fire, and the earth shook.

Glendower doesn't just say that Henry IV treats him as dangerous because of celestial events; Glendower implies that he really is special because of the manner of his birth. Unlike Hotspur (or, we'll see, Hal), Glendower is highly superstitious, and believes that natural signs can be prophesies of the future. Glendower has been brought up to believe that he is special; that his birth was somehow divinely ordained, and he is capable of shifting the natural order of the country. In a way, Glendower's confidence in his own special powers is a self-fulfilling prophecy: because Glendower believes that he's special, he has the courage and the ingenuity to attempt to overthrow Henry IV.

…you are too willful-blame;
And since your coming hither have done enough
To put him quite beside his patience.
You must needs learn, lord, to amend this fault:
Though sometimes it shows greatness, courage, blood—
And that’s the dearest grace it renders you,--
Yet oftentimes it doth present harsh rage,
Defect of manners, want of government,
Pride, haughtiness, opinion and disdain…

Related Characters: Earl of Worcester (speaker), Hotspur (Henry Percy)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 3.1.182-191
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Earl of Worcester confirms what we already knew about Hotspur: his hot-headedness is getting in the way of the group's plan to start a rebellion. Hotspur finds it nearly impossible to control his own warlike instincts. While such instincts may be useful on the battlefield, the Earl acknowledges, they need to be controlled during peacetime. As a result of his hot-headedness, Hotspur has already alerted Henry IV to the possibility of another rebellion--something that Henry wouldn't have been aware of had Hotspur just controlled his temper.

In short, Worcester is trying to act as an informal mentor to Hotspur. Worcester wants Hotspur to be a great politician as well as a great warrior. If the rebellion is to be a success, then Hotspur will have to do a better job of masking his real ambitions and controlling his language.

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

…I will wear a garment all of blood
And stain my favour in a bloody mask,
Which, wash’d away, shall scour my shame with it.

Related Characters: Prince Hal (Henry, Prince of Wales) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 3.2.140-142
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hal meets with his long-suffering father, Henry IV. Henry angrily chastises his son for being reckless and drunken in public. He urges Hal to act more honorably, like a proper monarch.

Prince Hal, who's far smarter and more politically-minded than his father imagines, knows exactly what to tell the king. He promises to become a great warrior and defeat Hotspur, who is now leading a rebellion against the monarchy. Hal's speech, which emphasizes blood and carnage, is tailor-made to appeal to society's general idea of "honor" as being closely tied to success in battle. Just as he's planned all along, Hal is preparing to switch from lout to king overnight, pleasing his father and redeeming his reputation.

Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better: tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.

Related Characters: Sir John Falstaff (speaker)
Page Number: 4.2.66-68
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Falstaff has assembled a ragtag group of soldiers to fight on behalf of Hal in the war with Hotspur. Falstaff introduces his troops to Hal, who immediately criticizes them for their meagerness and cowardice. Indeed, most of the troops Falstaff has recruited have paid off other people to fight in their place--with the result that Falstaff's troops are skinny, weak, and generally bad soldiers, but Falstaff himself has gotten richer. Falstaff defends his troops on the grounds that they're just as good as any other soldiers--all soldiers are mortal, after all.

Falstaff's words have been interpreted in many different ways. Falstaff is making the argument that a man is a man, at the end of the day--in other words, a good soldier is basically the same as a bad soldier, because in the harsh reality of war, death comes to most, and it comes at random. Falstaff's phrase, "food for powder" implies that his troops are doomed to be nothing more than "food"--i.e., they're just pawns in a vast war. It's nobles like Henry and Hotspur who make all the decisions and win all the glory, while thousands of nameless soldiers just fight and die for their rulers' cause. In general, Falstaff shows himself to be cynically perceptive of the harsh realities of combat, even as he's also being incredibly callous.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

…the King hath sent to know
The nature of your griefs; and whereupon
You conjure them from the breast of civil peace
Such bold hostility, teaching his duteous land
Audacious cruelty. If that the King
Have any way your good deserts forgot,
Which he confesseth to be manifold,
He bids you name your griefs; and with all speed
You shall have your desires with interest,
And pardon absolute for yourself and these
Herein misled by your suggestion.

Related Characters: Sir Walter Blunt (speaker), Hotspur (Henry Percy), King Henry IV, Earl of Worcester, Earl of Douglas, Sir Richard Vernon
Page Number: 4.3.47-57
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV sends a messenger to Hotspur and his followers, who by this point in the text have instigated a full-out rebellion against the king. Henry asks Hotspur to reconsider his actions--he promises to forgive Hotspur for his act of rebellion and pay Hotspur's peers well if they declare their loyalty to him. In short, Henry IV is trying to avoid a bloody war--but too late.

Henry IV's actions show that he's generally a good king, and prefers peace to bloodshed, even if it's "honorable" bloodshed. If he were as volatile as Hotspur, he certainly never would have offered any kind of apology or reparations, but would have immediately launched into battle. At the same time, were he as agile as Prince Hal, Henry might have been able to use rhetorical skill and timing in a better way, to actually prevent war.

Disgraced me in my happy victories,
Sought to entrap me by intelligence,
Rated mine uncle from the council board,
In rage dismissed my father from the court,
Broke oath on oath, committed wrong on wrong,
And in conclusion drove us to seek out
This head of safety, and withal to pry
Into his title, the which we find
Too indirect for long continuance.

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.3.104-112
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hotspur responds to Henry IV's peace offerings. Instead of submitting to Henry IV's authority, as Henry had hoped, Hotspur reiterates his hatred for the king: he explains that Henry IV has always mistreated Hotspur and Hotspur's family, sneakily breaking his promises to them in order to ascend to the throne. Now, Hotspur aims to defeat Henry and claim the throne of England for himself.

Hotspur's response proves that it was perhaps a bad idea for Henry IV to offer Hotspur peace so late in the game. By this point in the text, Hotspur's mind is made up: he thinks he has to follow through with his plan to fight Henry to the death. Therefore, sending a messenger to offer truce accomplishes nothing. Furthermore, the peace messenger only makes Hotspur angrier, and sends the message that Henry IV is frightened and desperate. Hotspur takes an obvious pleasure in listing his "beefs" with Henry IV, and in fact puffs up his own courage and confidence in the very act of rejecting Henry's offer.

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

These things, indeed, you have articulate,
Proclaim’d at market-crosses, read in churches,
To face the garment of rebellion
With some fine colour that may please the eye
Of fickle changelings and poor discontents,
Which gape and rub the elbow at the news
Of hurly-burly innovation:
And never yet did insurrection want
Such water-colours to impaint his cause

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker), Earl of Worcester
Page Number: 5.1.73-81
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV comes to negotiate with the Earl of Worcester, one of the rebellious aristocrats who have allied with Hotspur. Henry IV asks Worcester why he's rebelling, and Worcester "paints a picture" of Henry IV's traitorous behavior: as Worcester sees it Henry has caused the rebellion by provoking Hotspur's family for so many years. Henry's response to Worcester is interesting: instead of acknowledging that Worcester has a point, he just dismisses Worcester's points as a sob story. He essentially says that Hotspur is just greedy to be king, and so has concocted this story of grievances and declared it all over the country in order to make his grab for the throne seem sympathetic and legitimate.

The passage reinforces the fact that Henry IV has seriously underestimated his own actions. Even now, he refuses to believe that he's mistreated his aristocrats in rising to the throne, suggesting that Henry believes in his own inherent right to rule--a serious flaw for a monarch, particularly one who himself only became king by overthrowing the previous ruler. Furthermore, Henry IV doesn't use his conversation with Worcester as an opportunity to negotiate at all--he just makes Worcester madder by refusing to accept Worcester's point of view. Henry IV is, in short, out of touch with his own followers--and that's why some of these followers have banded together against him.

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 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 in that word “honour”? What is that “honour”? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o’Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. ‘Tis insensible then? Yea, 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.

Related Characters: Sir John Falstaff (speaker)
Page Number: 5.1.131-142
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Falstaff--who's about to go into battle on behalf of Prince Hal--criticizes the concept of honor. Falstaff has been pressured to fight because of the principle of honor (i.e., Falstaff's loyalty to Hal, and his confidence in his own abilities). And yet Falstaff doesn't see the point of honor at all. Honor is a meaningless concept because it compels men to go to battle, causes them to be injured, and then doesn't act as a "surgeon." In short, honor demands a lot of people, and doesn't give anything back. Furthermore, Falstaff sees honor as a mere "scutcheon"--an ornamented shield--essentially, a fancy word to cover up the harsh realities of greed, ambition, and violence.

Falstaff's speech seems pretty reasonable by modern standards: the old English code of honor (which compelled thousands of men to fight in silly wars and brutally lose their lives) doesn't hold much currency anymore. Of course, it's also important to note that Falstaff is really only criticizing the concept of honor because he's frightened of fighting. Falstaff is "wrong but right"--honor may be a sham, but Falstaff is still a hypocrite for boasting of his bravery and then fearing to fight.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

It is not possible, it cannot be,
The King should keep his word in loving us;
He will suspect us still, and find a time
To punish this offence in other faults:
Suspicion all our lives shall be stuck full of eyes…
Look how we can, or sad or merrily,
Interpretation will misquote our looks…
Therefore, good cousin, let not Harry know,
In any case, the offer of the King.

Related Characters: Earl of Worcester (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 5.2.5-27
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Earl of Worcester has returned to his fellow rebels, including Hotspur. Worcester has just learned that Henry IV will pardon the rebels if they surrender to him right away. Worcester doesn't quite trust that Henry will keep his word--he's sure that even if Henry doesn't kill the rebels, he'll still find ways to punish them and their families. Therefore, the rebels' only chance is to go through with their fighting. Nevertheless, Worcester is worried that if Hotspur finds out about Henry's offer of a truce, Hotspur will accept it. (Crucially, Worcester knows that he, Worcester, will be punished more harshly than Hotspur.) Therefore, he decides to keep Henry's offer of truce a secret, and instead to relay the message the Henry was crass and argumentative.

Even at this late point in the play, war could be avoided if Worcester had just told Hotspur the truth about Henry IV. Worcester's decision to keep his information secret underscores the power of language and communication--a few sentences perhaps could have prevented battle altogether.

Arm, arm with speed: and, fellows, soldiers, friends,
Better consider what you have to do
Than I, that have not well the gift of tongue,
Can lift your blood up with persuasion.

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.78-82
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hotspur tries halfheartedly to rally his troops with language. Hotspur is a hot-headed youth, and loves a good fight, but he knows that he has no talent for words. Instead of trying to "pump up" his troops with rhetorical flourishes, Hotspur just orders them to go out and fight the enemy.

The passage is another confirmation of Hotspur's weaknesses as a leader. Hotspur is a good warrior, but he doesn't know how to lead other warriors--doing so takes a talent for communication that Hotspur lacks altogether. In Henry V, the sequel to Shakespeare's Henry IV plays, we'll see a masterly example of how to whip a group of soldiers (a "band of brothers") into a frenzy with Hal's "Saint Crispin's Day" speech.

Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

I fear thou art another counterfeit;
And yet, in faith, thou bear’st thee like a king:
But mine I’m sure thou art, whoe’er thou be,
And thus I win thee.

Related Characters: Earl of Douglas (speaker)
Page Number: 5.4.35-38
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV faces off against the Earl of Douglas, one of the rebels. On the battlefield that day, at least one man (Sir Walter Blunt) has already pretended to be the real king, thus protecting Henry's life. (The warriors are so covered with armor that it's easy to disguise one's identity.) Douglas here worries that Henry IV is another impostor--someone pretending to be the monarch in order to protect the "real" Henry IV.

The passage is an important encapsulation of the ambiguities of kingship in the play. In one sense, it suggests that the only thing that really makes a king are appearances and external trappings--a crown, royal armor, etc. Thus any king at all could be a "counterfeit," and Henry's only right to the throne is the fact that he was strong enough to take it by force. But Douglas also admits that Henry bears himself "like a king," suggesting that there is something inherently royal about true monarchs. This connects to the idea of "divine right," or the belief that kings are naturally chosen by God to rule, and something in their very blood makes them royal and different from other men.

Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

Ill-spirited Worcester, did not we send grace,
Pardon, and terms of love to all of you?
And wouldst thou turn our offers contrary,
Misuse the tenor of thy kinsman’s trust?
Three knights upon our party slain today,
A noble earl, and many a creature else
Had been alive this hour,
If like a Christian thou hadst truly borne
Betwixt our armies true intelligence.

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker), Earl of Worcester
Page Number: 5.5.2-10
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the battle, Henry IV and his troops have won, and the Earl of Worcester has been captured. Henry IV is surprised to learn that Worcester hasn't passed on his offer of peace to the other rebels--Worcester deliberately concealed the opportunity for a truce from Hotspur and the others. Henry IV points out that Worcester could have prevented mass slaughter if he'd just told the truth "like a Christian" instead of thinking only of himself.

Henry IV's observation is right, but wrong. Henry is smart enough to respect the power of language and communication--because Worcester refused to pass along the message, many innocent people died. And yet Henry can't see that he himself also could have avoided a rebellion. If he'd been more attentive to his people and his followers, he could have nipped it in the bud.

No matches.