Henry IV Part 2

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The reigning King of England at play’s start, King Henry IV, falls gravely sick and he dies, passing the crown to his son King Henry V. While alive, King Henry IV is wracked with anxiety about his civil war-torn kingdom and plagued by the rebels’ longstanding resentment of his unscrupulous rise to the throne. He laments the burdens of being king, and is full of anxiety about Prince Hal's eventual rise to the throne, given Hal's self-indulgence.

King Henry IV Quotes in Henry IV Part 2

The Henry IV Part 2 quotes below are all either spoken by King Henry IV or refer to King Henry IV. 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:
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Henry IV Part 2 published in 2006.
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

The commonwealth is sick of their own choice:
Their over-greedy love hath surfeited…
…Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of [King Henry IV]
That thou provokes thyself to cast him up.
So, so, thou common dog, didst thou disgorge
Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard;
And now thou wouldst eat thy dead vomit up. (87-98)

Related Characters: The Archbishop of York (speaker), King Henry IV
Related Symbols: Sickness
Page Number: 1.3.91-103
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Archbishop of York, a rebel sympathizer, advises the rebels to begin their attack on Henry IV very soon. The Archbishop argues that the people of England are ready for a new king: everywhere, he can sense that the people are "stuffed" with Henry IV, and are on the verge of vomiting him up.

The Archbishop makes an interesting point when he compares Henry IV to his predecessor, Richard II, whom Henry IV dethroned. In a way, Henry IV is a victim of his own rebellion. By overthrowing Richard, Henry set the precedent for rebelling against the English monarch whenever the people feel "sick" of him--something that would have been nearly inconceivable before Richard's time. Now, Henry IV must suffer the same fate as his predecessor, it would seem: be overthrown by an angry, unruly people.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Henry IV Part 2 quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

…O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude
And, in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot
Deny it to a king? Then, happy low, lie down.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. (26-31)

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker)
Page Number: 3.1.26-31
Explanation and Analysis:

In this famous speech, Henry IV finds himself unable to enjoy his life as a king. He has unlimited power over his subjects, and yet he lives in constant fear of being deposed by a jealous rival. Henry IV concludes that being a king isn't much of a gift at all--while he's wide awake late at night, even the lowliest commoners in England get to enjoy their sleep.

Henry IV's speech is interesting in that it echoes a speech given by Richard II in Shakespeare's earlier play. Previously, Henry was a rebel, overthrowing Richard--now he's come to the same fate as Richard: he must spend the rest of his life anxiously defending his position. One important aspect of this is that Henry can't enjoy the "game" of politics--he considers it an heavy duty to have to defend his throne from enemies. In this respect, Henry IV will differ greatly from his son, Henry V, who savors every political battle he fights.

Then you perceive the body of our kingdom,
How foul it is, what rank diseases grow
And with what danger near the heart of it. (38-40)

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sickness
Page Number: 3.1.38-40
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV approaches his loyal followers, Warwick and Surrey, and tells them that England has become "diseased." England, Henry suggests, has a great "cancer"--a mass of rebels that is rapidly growing, sapping the country of life.

Henry's speech has another implication as well. In some ways, Henry himself is to blame for England's present "disease." By overthrowing Richard II, Henry has set a dangerous precedent for rebellion and insubordination--by sloppily overthrowing the king and failing to control his own people, Henry IV has brought about his own misery, and contributed to the country's sickness. It's up to Prince Hal to restore the kingdom's health.

Rumour doth double, like the voice and echo,
The numbers of the fear’d...
…Upon my soul, my lord,
The powers that you already have sent forth
Shall bring this prize in very easily. (99-103)

Related Characters: Earl of Warwick (speaker), King Henry IV, Rumor
Page Number: 3.1.100-104
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Earl of Warwick tries to pacify his monarch by telling Henry IV that he will be able to maintain his crown. Henry IV has assembled a powerful force, which will be able to defeat whatever rebels are left very easily. Note that Warwick alludes to the power of Rumor (reflecting the Prologue to the play): instead of controlling the public's perception of him, Henry IV has allowed himself to be controlled by public rumors about the size and scope of the rebellion.

In all, Warwick's monologue exposes some of the weaknesses in Henry IV's monarchy. Most basically of all, though, the very fact that Warwick has to comfort Henry shows how weak Henry has become. Instead of acting as a model of composure and confidence, Henry has exposed his fears to his closest advisers, allowing more rumors to "trickle down" to the public.

Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

Construe the times to their necessities,
And you shall say indeed, it is the time,
And not the king, that doth you injuries. (105-107)

Related Characters: Earl of Westmoreland (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.1.109-111
Explanation and Analysis:

Here the Earl of Westmoreland argues with Lord Mowbray over whether or not a rebellion against Henry IV is really necessary. Westmoreland argues that Mowbray is just eager to fight--he has no real problem with Henry IV, at least not a problem that needs to be settled with outright war.

Westmorland's emphasis on "the times" suggests that Mowbray doesn't have a just reason for rebelling against Henri IV at all--he just thinks he can spin the situation to his advantage and gain some land and wealth for himself. Mowbray, Westmoreland argues, is an opportunist pretending to be a moralist.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

…Lo, where it sits,
Which God shall guard; and put the whole world’s strength
Into one giant arm, it shall not force
This lineal honor from me. This from thee
Will I to mine leave, as ‘tis left to me. (43-47)

Related Characters: Prince Hal/King Henry V (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.3.189-195
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Prince Hal thinks he becomes the rightful king of England by accepting the crown from his father, the dying Henry IV. (He assumes that his father has just died, but really Henry IV is just asleep.) As Hal puts the crown on his head, he muses on the role of the king, and decides to take up the duty of his new role. Hal will guard his monarchy with skill and cleverness, and one day he'll pass on the crown to his own child, just as Henry IV has passed it on to him.

While this is part of a somewhat comic, ridiculous turn of events, it's important to notice what Prince Hal is doing in his premature acceptance speech: he's creating a legacy out of nothing. Henry IV's claim to the throne of England was constantly being disputed during his lifetime: he had to fight off rivals almost constantly. But now that Henry IV is (presumably) dead, Hal resolves to create what Henry IV himself never had: a stable royal lineage. Even if Henry IV's claim to the monarchy was disputed, Hal's claim is stronger, simply because his father was the king (whether justly or not). By the same token, Hal knows that his own son's claim to the throne will be even stronger than his own, since at that point the family's claim to the throne will occupy three separate generations. In short, Hal recognizes the importance of lineage in defending his right to rule.

Thou hast stol'n that which after some few hours
Were thine without offense, and at my death
Thou hast seal'd up my expectation. (101-103)

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker), Prince Hal/King Henry V
Page Number: 4.3.255-257
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hal--who has just taken the crown from his father, whom he assumed was dead--learns that his father is still very much alive, and has been listening to everything Hal just said. Hal has made a long speech about power and control, without ever expressing much affection for his father. Henry IV is appalled that Hal could be so insensitive to his own family, and scolds Hal for "stealing" the crown when he could have waited a couple hours to get it legitimately. Henry IV's worst fears are confirmed: Hal really is a greedy, irresponsible brat.

It's been suggested that even up to this point in the play, Hal was an irresponsible brat, just as Henry IV says. It's not until this moment that Hal sees the light: Hal finally begins to recognize the gravity of his challenge as a monarch. He must defend the throne from civil war, honoring his father's memory. (There are also critics who've argued that Hal is leagues ahead of Henry IV, and already has a sophisticated plan for maintaining his power.)

Shakespeare also uses this rather silly scene to undercut the solemnity of kingship and the passing of the crown. While a dying king passing his rule to his son should be a serious, grand affair, here it's marred by this embarrassing mix-up. Thus the play shows that even among monarchs, family relations and human misunderstandings are just as messy and sometimes ridiculous as with everyone else.

Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days. (344-346)

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker), Prince Hal/King Henry V
Page Number: 4.3.372-375
Explanation and Analysis:

In this prophetic passage, Henry IV gives Hal some good but disturbing advice: the best way to avoid being unrest at home is to focus on trouble abroad. By focusing the people's minds on some external threat or foreign war, Henry IV argues, Hal will be able to solidify his claim to the throne of England.

Henry IV's dying advice shows what he himself always intended to do--indeed, at the start of Henry IV Part 1, Henry was planning to go to the Middle East and fight in the Crusades, but then he was interrupted by strife at home. Even if Henry IV was never able to follow his own advice, here he at least passes it on to his son. And as we'll see in Henry V, the "sequel" to Shakespeare's play, Henry V will take his father's advice to heart, first engaging England in a serious of religious crusades and then orchestrating a complicated war with France, solidifying his claim to being the "best man for the job" of king.

The advice Henry IV delivers is itself rather disturbing, however. It assumes that foreign lives (particularly those of "heathens," or the Arab targets of the Crusades) are worthless compared to English lives, and callously suggests that maintaining one's power is worth huge amounts of bloodshed. It also relies on the demonization of an "other" in order to promote unity--a tactic of dictators and demagogues everywhere.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

...what I did in honor,
Led by th’impartial conduct of my soul;
And never shall you see that I will beg
A ragged and forestalled remission.
If truth and upright innocency fail me,
I’ll to the King my master that is dead. (35-40)

Related Characters: The Lord Chief Justice (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 5.2.36-42
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Chief Justice mourns the ascent of Prince Hal to the throne of England. Prince Hal has always seemed to despise the Chief Justice, and now that Hal is King Henry V, the Chief Justice is sure that his life will be hellish. The Justice prepares to face Henry V and awaits his punishment for his past of constantly scolding Hal's wild ways.

The Justice's behavior suggests that he still thinks of Henry V as an irresponsible and vindictive person--someone who lets his grudges dictate his political behavior. As we'll see very soon, though, the Justice underestimates Prince Hal. As Henry V, Hal will exercise mercy and justice on all his subjects. Furthermore, it's revealed that he has actually valued the Chief Justice's past criticisms of himself, and so he rewards the Chief Justice rather than punishing him.

So shall I live to speak my father’s words:
“Happy am I, that have a man so bold,
That dares do justice on my proper son;
And not less happy, having such a son,
That would deliver up his greatness so
Into the hands of justice.” (106-111)

Related Characters: Prince Hal/King Henry V (speaker), King Henry IV, The Lord Chief Justice
Page Number: 5.2.108-113
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, King Henry V surprises everyone by praising the Chief Justice--the very man who frequently punished Henry when Henry was only the prince, not the king. The Justice claims that he was only honoring the rules of law when he punished Henry. Henry is very impressed with the Justice's explanation, and plans to reward the Justice with a powerful position in court.

Why doesn't Henry enact revenge on the Chief Justice? One reason is that he's still playing his part, drawing out the surprise of how responsible and impartial he has suddenly become. Another is that the Chief Justice represents the force of law. Henry V doesn't need any domestic disturbances right now--his position as the king of England is so unstable that he could be overthrown at any time. In order to cement his status as the rightful king of England, Henry makes it known that he is a just monarch and an agent of law and order. In this way, Henry encourages his subjects to think of him as the most "natural" and legitimate king possible: to be against Henry is to be against law itself.

…believe me, I beseech you;
My father is gone wild into his grave,
For in his tomb lie my affections;
And with his spirit sadly I survive,
To mock the expectation of the world,
To frustrate prophecies and to raze out
Rotten opinion, who hath writ me down
After my seeming. (122-129)

Related Characters: Prince Hal/King Henry V (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 5.2.123-130
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry V skillfully convinces his subjects to accept his authority as the new king. Henry acknowledges that as a young man he was irresponsible and drunken. But now, Henry insists, he's "buried" his wild oats, along with the body of his own father,  Henry IV.

Henry's speech is a skillful piece of rhetoric, because it simultaneously distances him from his father and reinforces his status as the rightful heir to his father's throne. By associating his old behavior with Henry IV (i.e., the image of "burying"), Henry makes it clear that he's a different man than his father--and therefore the people who hated Henry IV shouldn't automatically hate him. And Henry's speech also confirms that he has had a plan all along: just as he claimed in Part I of the play, Henry was being irresponsible as a young man because he wanted to be able to surprise people with the sudden reversal in his behavior. In short, Henry V begins his reign by establishing himself as a just, legitimate, and unique monarch--and the fact that he establishes all this with one speech proves that he's a master politician as well.

Get the entire Henry IV Part 2 LitChart as a printable PDF.
Henry iv part 2.pdf.medium

King Henry IV Character Timeline in Henry IV Part 2

The timeline below shows where the character King Henry IV appears in Henry IV Part 2. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Induction
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Rumor goes on to set the stage for the action of the play: King Henry IV ’s side has just won the battle of Shrewsbury, crushing Hotspur and his rebel allies.... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 1
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
...Prince Hal, Douglas and Worcester have been captured, and the rebel troops are all disbanded. King Henry IV ’s side is victorious and Lancaster and Westmoreland are currently leading troops towards Northumberland. (full context)
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
Morton informs Northumberland that the Archbishop of York is rallying more rebel troops against King Henry IV and that his troops will fight better than Hotspur’s, for Hotspur’s soldiers fought “with queasiness…as... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
...his head at what a terrible influence Falstaff is on Prince Hal and observes that King Henry IV has separated Falstaff from the prince. Yes, Falstaff replies that he is leaving the prince... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Warfare Theme Icon
...the other rebels Mowbray, Lord Marshall, Hastings, and Lord Bardolph to discuss their strategy against King Henry IV . They’re still unsure whether Northumberland will send soldiers to strengthen their troops and Mowbray... (full context)
Warfare Theme Icon
...they should launch their rebellion despite being uncertain about Northumberland’s support, Hastings points out that King Henry IV ’s own troops are pretty weak, since he is also busy fighting in Wales and... (full context)
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...determines that they should launch their rebellion. The English people, he says, are “sick of” King Henry IV . He then goes on to lambast the English for being a gluttonous, idiot dog,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
...Quickly, Fang, Snare, Bardolph, and the page exit. The Chief Justice talks with Gower about King Henry IV ’s plans for his troops, which he is marching up to join Lancaster’s forces before... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...dressed, whore-addicted lowlife as Poins. When Poins chides Hal for chattering on so light-heartedly while King Henry IV lies sick, Hal replies that it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to air his grief... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
Peto, a drinking buddy of Falstaff and Hal, enters and tells everyone that King Henry IV is in Westminster and that a dozen army captains are out looking for Falstaff. Prince... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
At Westminster castle, King Henry IV can’t sleep. He sends for the Earl of Surrey and Earl of Warwick and, alone... (full context)
Disease Theme Icon
Warwick and Surrey enter and King Henry IV asks them if they “perceive the body of our kingdom how foul it is, what... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
King Henry IV is inconsolable, and cries that the passage of time changes everything, setting off vast transformations... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Warwick assures King Henry IV that every man’s life is a form of history and that studying that history enables... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
King Henry IV says he’s heard that the Archbishop and Northumberland’s troops number fifty thousand soldiers. Warwick assures... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
...they might cause by going on the offense, leaving them no choice but rebellion since King Henry IV has refused to listen to their grievances. They don’t want to break the peace, the... (full context)
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Westmoreland balks at the Arcbishop’s claim that King Henry IV has denied the rebels his attention and protests that the rebels have no legitimate cause... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
...swearing “by the honor of my blood” that it’s all just a misunderstanding, and that King Henry IV will redress them immediately as long as the rebels disband their troops. The Archbishop says,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
...strong, like Prince Hal who owes his courage to wine consumption (not to his father King Henry IV , who is, Falstaff claims, a coward). If Falstaff has sons, he resolves, he’ll make... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
In the palace in London, King Henry IV lies sick in bed. He asks his son Humphrey Duke of Gloucester about Prince Hal... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
As King Henry IV lies unconscious, Clarence and Gloucester discuss the grim omens that have plagued the kingdom recently:... (full context)
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Prince Hal enters and, hearing King Henry IV is bedridden, says he’ll sit with his father while his father sleeps. Clarence, Gloucester, and... (full context)
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
King Henry IV wakes and cries out for Clarence, Gloucester, and Warwick, who enter. Hearing that Prince Hal... (full context)
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
King Henry IV accuses Prince Hal of wishing him dead. “O foolish youth,” he exclaims, “Thou seek’st the... (full context)
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Prince Hal cries out for King Henry IV ’s pardon, handing back the crown and swearing his enduring allegiance to his father. Hal... (full context)
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
Moved by his son’s speech, King Henry IV forgives Prince Hal and imparts his final advice lovingly: “God knows, my son,” he says... (full context)
Warfare Theme Icon
Lancaster and Warwick enter to bid King Henry IV last farewells. The king asks what the name of the room where he fainted was... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
At the palace in London, Warwick informs the Chief Justice that King Henry IV is dead. The Chief Justice says he wishes he, too, were dead, for Prince Hal... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...Henry V, enters and, seeing his brothers’ nervous expressions, tells them he understands sorrow at King Henry IV ’s death but that they shouldn’t be worried about his rise to the throne. He’ll... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...Justice responds that he always acted according to the law and as the representative of King Henry IV , whose power was vested in him. When Prince Hal broke the king’s laws, he... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...past. Addressing everybody, King Henry V says that his past behavior has been buried with King Henry IV : “the tide of blood in me hath proudly flowed in vanity till now. Now... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...one another. Falstaff’s page and Davy attend them. Pistol arrives and announces the news that King Henry IV has died and King Henry V reigns. Overjoyed, Falstaff immediately prepares to ride off to... (full context)