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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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Notes

In this scene the King’s relation to his son is shown. Details of the present state of England and the King’s aspirations are provided here. After having heard several earlier references to the King’s health, the audience now sees the ruler sick and lying in his palace.

The scene begins with the King, in bed, addressing his sons and others. He states that if civil order is restored and his health improves, he will lead England on a crusade to the Holy Land. The King urges Thomas of Clarence to care for his brother and be his good adviser when Hal becomes king. He says, “Learn this Tomas, And thou shalt prove a shelter to thy friends,/ A hoop of gold to bind thy brothers in, that the united vessel of their blood,/ Mingled with venom of suggestion--As force perforce the age will pour it in.” This is a collection of diverse images. The meaning is conveyed by swift allusion to the golden hoop, the hoop binding a barrel, the union of brothers symbolized by the vial of blood, the virulent liquid working in the container, and the explosive substance striving to rend apart that which is united. When the King comes to know that Hal is dining with Poins and other low associates in London, he is very much grieved and anxiously laments what the state of England will be after his death and when Hal takes up the rule. This shows the King’s concern for the welfare of his country and his people. Warwick consoles him by assuring that Hal will turn the past evils to advantage. It must be noted that Warwick is a very loyal and faithful subject of the King. Whenever the King is in distress, he comforts him. He has an optimistic approach to everything and always sees the brighter side of things.


Clarence is a realist. When Warwick says the King will soon recover, Clarence does not agree. He says that the incessant care and labor of his mind, “Hath wrought the mure that should confine it in/ So thin that life looks through and will break out.” He knows that the King is too weak to recover from the illness caused by excess worrying and mental turmoil. He mentions that the river Thames had overflowed three times just before Edward’s death. This prophecy comes true shortly.

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