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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 5

Summary

The rebels have been defeated and their leaders captured. Henry rebukes Worcester for his conduct and sentences him and Vernon to death. Prince Hal asks that Douglas' life be spared, and Henry agrees to this request. Hal then gives the "high courtesy" (33) of informing Douglas and setting him free to Prince John and further praises Douglas as a worthy opponent.

The king then gives instructions for how they will deal with the remaining opposition. John and Westmoreland will lead an army toward York to engage Northumberland and the Archbishop of York, and Henry and Hal will lead an army toward Wales to fight Glendower and Mortimer.


Notes

At the end of the drama, King Henry IV, the titular hero of the play, is composed and confident. The immediate danger to the crown has been met and his son has proven himself worthy. He condemns Worcester for lying to Hotspur and laments the unnecessary deaths his actions caused, leaving no doubt that his execution of Worcester and Vernon are just. He then gives decisive orders for dealing with the remaining rebels. He has truly come into his own as a leader, and emerges now as the ideal king, stern and strong, fair and just.

Hal, too, concludes with another noble act, setting Douglas free. Unlike the Percies, who engaged in a traitorous act, Douglas is not an English citizen. As an external foe, he is due the chivalry extended to a worthy enemy. While the reader may wonder at the valor of a man who runs from a fight with the prince, Hal and the Prince interpret his actions in pragmatic terms. He fought valiantly and fled only when the tide of battle turned. Hal's act is also shrewd; by freeing Douglas, he turns the enemy Scots to friends henceforth.

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