Henry IV Part 1

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Celestial Events Symbol Analysis

Celestial Events Symbol Icon
In Henry IV Part 1, celestial events are controversial symbols. Some characters, such as Glendower and Bardolph, believe in their symbolic power and read the future in the skies, trusting the motions of the sun, moon, stars, and meteors to foretell events in the human world. Yet for other characters, such as Prince Hal and Hotspur, celestial events are totally devoid of symbolic power and are just ordinary natural processes that have nothing to do with human history. Throughout the play, celestial events play a dual role: they function both as an affirmation of symbolic significance in the natural world and as a refutation of that significance, depending on who’s looking at them.

Celestial Events Quotes in Henry IV Part 1

The Henry IV Part 1 quotes below all refer to the symbol of Celestial Events. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Appearances Theme Icon
). 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 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.

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Celestial Events Symbol Timeline in Henry IV Part 1

The timeline below shows where the symbol Celestial Events appears in Henry IV Part 1. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Appearances Theme Icon
Honor Theme Icon
...behavior has nothing to do with his true nature. He compares himself to a personified sun who may “permit the base contagious clouds” to dull “his beauty” but who, “when he... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Appearances Theme Icon
Honor Theme Icon
...When Hal asks what excuse they have for such cowardice, Bardolph points to the portentous meteors which, he says, foreshadow angry times. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Appearances Theme Icon
...natural phenomena that would have occurred whether or not Glendower was born. Glendower insists that the sky was in flames and “the Earth did tremble” in specific announcement of his birth. He... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Appearances Theme Icon
...Prince John, Sir Walter Blunt, and Falstaff observe the dawn. The king says the blood-red sun looks angry at the day. Prince Hal says the whistling of the southern wind “foretells... (full context)