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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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PLOT

Shakespeare records the events of history in this play as in other historical plays. Henry IV had to face troubles from the Welsh, Lollards, French, and Scots. Here his attention is confined to the northern region. Shakespeare uses verse almost entirely but occasional prose is also used. The actions are distributed mostly between three locations: Falstaff continues to occupy the tavern, the King meditates on his own past in the isolation of his palace, and the rebels are again confronted and overcome in the battlefield.

One major change that is noted from the first part is the absence of Hotspur, whose courage and valor is glorified in the words of his wife Lady Percy. With his death, the rebels lose their courage and spirits. They become uncertain of their own motives without a leader to guide them. Northumberland, maddened with grief, cries out in despair. York, who believes that the nation is sick, takes upon himself the responsibility of purging it by insurrection.


Shakespeare conveys fully and intimately the effects of age. They are expressed clearly in the dying King’s anxiety about the future of his people, in Lady Percy’s memories of her dead husband, and in Shallow’s illogical conversations.

In this play, events turn out contrary to the expectations of the characters. The first scene begins with three messengers bringing three different messages. The Prince thinks that the King is dead, takes the crown, and puts on his head, but then discovers that the King is alive. Falstaff reaches Westminster “stained with travel” and “sweating with desire” only to be brushed aside and rejected.

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