Henry IV Part 2

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Prince Hal/King Henry V Character Analysis

Starting the play as a drunken, rowdy, fun-loving frat boy, Prince Hal surprises everyone by abandoning his wild ways at his father’s deathbed and maturing into the serious, sober, and fair-minded King Henry V. Rather than usher in an era of debauchery and corruption, as many suspect, King Henry V unsentimentally banishes his beloved old friend Falstaff and commits himself to building a strong and moral England.

Prince Hal/King Henry V Quotes in Henry IV Part 2

The Henry IV Part 2 quotes below are all either spoken by Prince Hal/King Henry V or refer to Prince Hal/King Henry V. 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 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Prince Hal: Before God, I am exceeding weary.



Poins: Is't come to that? I had thought weariness durst not 
have attached one of so high blood.

Prince Hal: Faith, it does me; though it discolours the 
complexion of my greatness to acknowledge it. Doth 
it not show vilely in me to desire small beer? (1-5)

Related Characters: Prince Hal/King Henry V (speaker), Ned Poins (speaker)
Page Number: 2.2.1-6
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Prince Hal makes a simple admission; he's feeling tired. His associate, Poins, is surprised to hear a prince admit to weakness of any kind, and Hal realizes that Poins has a point. Hal realizes that he needs to do a better job of pretending to be strong and majestic. His days of drinking in taverns are drawing to a close. (Now he only desires "small," or barely-alcoholic, beer.)

Hal's admission in this scene proves that he's smart enough to learn from his mistakes. Hal has been drinking in taverns for years, but now the stakes have changed: in a time of civil unrest, Hal needs to step up his game and be a model of composure and leadership. It's Poins' innocent observation that reinforces this crucial point for the young prince.

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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

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.

Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers;

How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!

I have long dream'd of such a kind of man,

So surfeit-swell'd, so old and so profane;

But, being awaked, I do despise my dream.

Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace;

Leave gormandizing; know the grave doth gape

For thee thrice wider than for other men.

Reply not to me with a fool-born jest. (43-52)

Related Characters: Prince Hal/King Henry V (speaker), Sir John Falstaff
Page Number: 5.5.47-55
Explanation and Analysis:

In this most famous scene in the play, Henry V crosses paths with his old friend, Falstaff, whom he used to love getting drunk with, playing tricks on, and talking to. Now that Henry V is a powerful king, he can't risk being seen with his old friend, and here Henry is trying to send the message that he's a just, reasonable monarch; i.e., not the kind of person who would hang out with an old alcoholic like Falstaff, or give favors to his incompetent friends. And so Henry cruelly ignores and insults Falstaff, claiming not to know his old friend at all, but only to have "dreamed" of him once.

Henry V's behavior is both the right move and an incredibly cruel act. Falstaff, for all his faults, was the most lovable (and, traditionally, the most popular) character in the play. So when Henry ignores Falstaff, we can't help but think that he's sold a part of his soul in exchange for the crown. We miss the "old Henry"--the fun-loving teenager who used to get into mischief with Falstaff every night. Henry has gained the throne, and is acting as a just monarch who won't dole out unfair favors to his friends (like Falstaff was expecting), but in the process he's lost something crucial and human.

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Prince Hal/King Henry V Character Timeline in Henry IV Part 2

The timeline below shows where the character Prince Hal/King Henry V 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
...speak so true at first?” Rumor asks, “my office is to noise abroad that [Prince Hal] fell under the wrath of noble Hotspur’s sword, and that the king before the Douglas’... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 1
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
...tells Northumberland that the rebels have won the Battle of Shrewsbury; Hotspur has slain Prince Hal; Douglas has killed the Blunts; Lancaster, Westmoreland, and Stafford have run away; and Falstaff has... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
...which I would to God I had not seen.” Hotspur has been slain by Prince Hal, Douglas and Worcester have been captured, and the rebel troops are all disbanded. King Henry... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
The Chief Justice enters and Falstaff identifies him as the man who imprisoned Prince Hal after the prince hit him during an argument. Falstaff at first pretends to be deaf.... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
...for him a long time ago and that he’s charged with debt, corruption of Prince Hal, and the robbery at Gad’s Hill. He says it’s lucky for Falstaff that he fought... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Warfare Theme Icon
...is old. He shakes 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... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
In London, Prince Hal complains about being tired to Ned Poins, who replies that he thought princes were too... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Bardolph enters with Falstaff’s page, who has a letter for Prince Hal from Falstaff. In the letter, Falstaff pretentiously affects the language of a noble, calling himself... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Prince Hal and Poins enter, disguised as waiters. Not realizing that the prince and Poins are in... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Prince Hal and Poins emerge, no longer in disguise, and Hal calls Falstaff out for having just... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Falstaff insists that he wasn’t slandering Prince Hal at all, that he only “dispraised [Hal] before the wicked, that the wicked might not... (full context)
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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
...girlish, foolish, and cowardly. Boys who do drink wine grow valiant and strong, like Prince Hal who owes his courage to wine consumption (not to his father King Henry IV, who... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...IV lies sick in bed. He asks his son Humphrey Duke of Gloucester about Prince Hal and Humphrey replies that Hal is out hunting. The king then asks his other son... (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... (full context)
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...IV wakes and cries out for Clarence, Gloucester, and Warwick, who enter. Hearing that Prince Hal has been sitting with him and noticing the crown gone, the king concludes that his... (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 greatness that will... (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... (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 to the prince,... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
...men take heed of their company.” He thinks happily of how he will make Prince Hal buckle with laughter by telling stories about the justice. “O, it is much that a... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
...IV is dead. The Chief Justice says he wishes he, too, were dead, for Prince Hal so loathes him that his life under the new king will be hell. Lancaster, Clarence,... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Hal, now King Henry V, enters and, seeing his brothers’ nervous expressions, tells them he understands... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...as the representative of King Henry IV, whose power was vested in him. When Prince Hal broke the king’s laws, he punished the prince accordingly. The Chief Justice asks King Henry... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Disease Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
King Henry V replies that the Chief Justice was absolutely right to have behaved as he did and... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
...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 London, exclaiming that everyone will have... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
Grooms strew rushes on another London street in preparation for King Henry V ’s coronation procession. Falstaff, Justice Shallow, Pistol, Bardolph, and Falstaff’s page stand excitedly in the... (full context)
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
The Right to the Throne Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
King Henry V enters with the Chief Justice and Falstaff shouts “my sweet boy!” “my heart!” trying to... (full context)
Epilogue
Lies, Honesty, Morality Theme Icon
...Falstaff’s story will be picked up again in the next play, which will also include King Henry V ’s future wife Katherine. He promises, too, that Falstaff is not based on the historic... (full context)