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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 3

Summary

The scene shifts to Hotspur's castle, Warkworth. Hotspur is reading a letter from an unnamed nobleman, who has declined to participate in the rebellion. Hotspur responds to the noble's cautious misgivings with epithets - how could this "shallow cowardly hind" (15-16) hesitate to join him when he already has the support of so many? Hotspur fears that the noble may betray him to the king, but remains resolute in his plan.

Lady Percy enters. He has lately been neglecting her and seems to be preoccupied with war plans. She suspects that her husband's recent behavior has something to do with her brother, Mortimer, and, fearing for his safety, she insists on knowing what is going on. Hotspur refuses to tell her. His secrecy annoys her, but she is pacified when he promises to send for her soon after his departure.


Notes

Serious plans are underway for the rebellion. Hotspur has contacted and received the support of many nobles and is reddened with anger at the unnamed noble's refusal to support him. He curses his cowardice and foolishness resoundingly. Though brave and determined, he once again reveals himself to be hotheaded and somewhat irrational. He cannot conceive that anyone would consider his rash plot to overthrow the king to be anything other than the right and necessary path. He refuses to reveal the details of the plan to his wife, for although he loves her, she is, in his words, "yet a woman" (115) and thus untrustworthy, but by broadcasting his intentions so widely, he has risked betraying himself to the king.

For the very first time in the play, a female character is introduced, Lady Percy. The charming and refreshing domestic scene that occurs adds realism to the play, as well as providing a balance to the male dominated, action-driven plot. Hotspur has been so possessed by his plans for the rebellion that he is ignoring his wife and mumbling in his sleep. Lady Percy, concerned, tries to make him talk of his worries. Hotspur tries to downplay her concern by teasing her. When she asks what "carries you away" (80) he replies, "my horse, my love, my horse" (81). She replies with mock fury, calling him a "mad-headed ape" (82) who does not love her and threatening to break his pinky if he does not tell. Hotspur then gently tells her that he does love her but that the business of state takes precedence over domestic affairs. "We must have bloody noses and cracked crowns" (98), he says. He then tries to appease her by promising that she will soon rejoin him, wherever he goes.

Hotspur and Lady Percy clearly share an intimate relationship, which is well brought out by the use of language. The couple's use of first names with each other, Harry and Kate, and the informal "you" instead of the formal "thee," is indicative of their closeness, as is their teasing banter. Although Hotspur is the master of his house, the two are evenly matched. Lady Percy does not pretend to be appeased by his secrecy and accepts it only because she must.

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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare
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