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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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Notes

King Henry IV dominates this scene. He wins the sympathy of all including his sons. He appears to be a loving father concerned about the welfare and well being of his children. The King appears to be very sick and the audience knows his end is near.


Hal enters and sees the King lying motionless with the crown besides him; he concludes that the King is dead. In a soliloquy, he thinks that the power of the crown is so great that it had caused the death of his father. His philosophic approach to life is shown here: “Why doth the crown life there upon pillow/ Being so troublesome a bedfellow?/ O polish’d perturbation golden care/ That keepest the ports of slumber wide/ To many a watchful night.” He means that those who wear the crown have sleepless nights as his father had. The crown is personified as a troublesome bed fellow who denies the man who wears it the pleasure of sleep and mental peace. When the King reproves Hal for being impatient to wear the crown, the prince controlling his grief, patiently explains to the King that he ardently wishes for a long life for the King. He clears his father’s doubt that he has been waiting for his death. He pledges that if his motive were selfish, let him be the poorest slave in the country: “Let God for ever keep it from my head,/ And make me as the poorest vessel is,/ That doth with awe and terror kneel to it.” This shows the humility and respect Hal has for his father. The King is very much moved by his son’s words. He blesses his son and tells him that since he has become King unjustly, he has had a troublesome reign. But since the prince is inheriting the throne from his father, he is sure to have a peaceful reign. He prays to God to grant his son a peaceful reign and also to forgive his sin of being responsible for the death of Richard. The King’s guilty conscience and the mental agony he suffers is clear. Another fact is that the King feels that after his death, disorder and vice will prevail in the country during the rule of his son. But the irony is, unlike the King’s reign, the young King’s reign is going to be peaceful and tranquil. The King’s anguish and sorrow transcend the personal level when he expresses his anxiety of the future.

Towards the last part of the scene, the King asks his followers to take him to the “Jerusalem” chamber where he shall die. The King recalls somebody had prophesied that he would die in Jerusalem. It is notable that prophecies play an important part in the play. The King is taken to that chamber where he dies.

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