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

Summary

Douglas confronts Blunt, who is disguised as King Henry. Thinking that it is indeed Henry, he announces that he has already killed the Lord of Stafford, who was dressed as the king, and will kill Henry as well if he does not surrender. Blunt fights him and is killed. Douglas is overjoyed over his success and thinks that the battle is won, until Hotspur comes along and reveals Bluntís true identity. He explains that many men are marching in the king's dress. Before they depart in different directions, Hotspur announces that the battle is so far going well.

Falstaff appears. Seeing the lifeless Blunt, he once again comments on the futility of war and bloodshed. "There's honor for you" (35), he says. Nearly his entire troop has been slaughtered and those that remain alive are likely to be cripples for life.

Prince Hal enters and, finding him idle reproves him and asks to borrow his sword. Falstaff offers him his pistol, but when Hal opens the case, all he finds is a bottle of sack. Infuriated, he throws it at Falstaff and exits.

When the prince is gone, Falstaff sadly resolves himself to whatever fate awaits him. While he does not want the honor earned by Blunt, he will kill Percy if he can. Still, he would prefer to live.


Notes

The scene is set on the battlefield where the kingís army confronts the rebels and their forces. Blunt, disguised as King Henry, is killed by Douglas, who already killed the Lord of Stafford, who was similarly disguised. In the Middle Ages, the death or capture of a king meant a battle's end. It was not uncommon for a king to fight in disguise or to have a number of his men disguised as the king.

Life in Elizabethan times was harsher than today and people were much more used to confronting death and disaster in daily life. Thus, the grim humor of Falstaff on the battlefield. At first he appears frazzled and discouraged, almost chastened by the battle. He finds no glory in the grinning corpse of Sir Walter Blunt. As soon as Hal appears on the scene, however, he begins exaggerating his exploits, declaring that he killed Percy. He then plays a trick on Hal. He hands Hal his pistol case, declaring that the contents of his pistol case are enough to "sack a city" (58). The case contains, of course, a bottle of sack. Even in the midst of death, Falstaff is able to joke.

Prince Hal's response to Falstaff is a complete turnaround from his previous behavior. Seeing Falstaff idle infuriates him, for "many a nobleman lies stark and stiff" (43), waiting to be revenged. When he discovers that Falstaff has handed him a bottle of sack instead of a pistol, he exclaims, "What, is it a time to jest and dally now?" (59) and throws the bottle at Falstaff. Hal has taken on the responsibilities of a prince, and no longer has time for Falstaff's jests.

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