Henry IV Part I & II
This is a play written by Shakespeare about the ancient kingdom of England and the struggles of war between England and France. Shakespeare gave a chronological account of the political unrest in the reign of King Henry IV and the events following his succession by his son the Prince of Wales, Prince Hal. In the play, disagreement between the prince and the king was the major point of focus. The play was divided into two parts, which had similarities and some contrasting happenings as well.
In the first part of King Henry IV, the king’s son, Prince Hal, the Prince of Wales, has been disappointing his father in his lousy character (William, 1999). His father, King Henry IV, is constantly complaining about his son’s behavior and that he is running away from his public responsibility besides his ill conceptions towards public funds “thou judgest false already. I mean thou shalt have the hanging of the thieves and so became a rare hangman” (Shakespeare 12). This was in contrast with the prince presented in the second part of the play. He comes in as a reformed character knowing too well of his responsibilities as the heir of kingship. He is depicted as a very responsible, rational, and principled prince as seen in his statement, “so please your majesty, I would I could quit all offences with as clear excuse within these two howres: and so come in, when yee will” (Shakespeare 110). His remarkable speech was a surprise to all especially his critics who thought he was unfit to inherit his father’s crown. In his speech, he expressively affirms that he is a reformed person. Thus, he takes an active role in the second part of the story unlike in the first part where he was not interested in anything concerning his father’s crown.
The prince in the first part was careless about his destiny as a King. “Well then once in my days I’ll be a madcap” (Shakespeare 16). In those days, kingship and leadership was held as one’s destiny and one could not run away from the responsibilities attached. Prince Hal however was unconcerned with this fact and never involved himself in governance or leadership. This made his father very disturbed and angry with his heir who turned out to be a regular drunkard who used to spend most of his time in the company of the poor people. However, in the second part the prince takes a low position and no longer spends time with his lousy friends. He depicts maturity and saves his father’s life making peace with his father before he died and he received the kingship crown in honour (William 24). Here, he is responsible and much involved in the political running of the kingdom.
Similar to the first part, in the second part Prince Hal is still the heir to the throne and the son of the king. In both parts of the historic play, Prince Hal is the most actively mentioned of the king’s sons and the most talked about in the history account. He is the focus in both the stories and has been the main point of discussion in all the events taking place in the play (Yoshino, 2010). In both plays, he has a relationship with the low-life in the society and this has had an impact in his kingship. His father’s opinion on his conduct does not change in both the plays as his father constantly kept on lamenting that the kingdom would fall apart under his watch and reign. His issues with his father are seen in both plays and in his father’s view that he was not capable of maintaining the kingdom’s authority and influence. In addition, in both parts, the king shows concern and became very worried when he saw the prince living in a way to compromise his rating as a deserving king.
The plays compares in both character and plot having the same characters and the same theme on leadership and succession. The contrast is in the behavior of the prince and the turn of events in the second part of the play in his attitude towards his father whom he had always rebelled against.
William, Shakespeare. Henry IV, Part 2. New Haven: Yale University press, 2009. Print
William, Shakespeare. The works of Shakespeare. New York: Macmillan, 1899. Print
William, Shakespeare. “Henry IV, Part One.” eNotes, 2011. Web. 29 Oct 2011.
< http://www.enotes.com/henry-4-part-1 >
William, Shakespeare. “Henry IV Part 2 Study Guide & Essays.” Gradesaver, 1999. Web. 29 Oct 2011 < http://www.gradesaver.com/henry-iv-part-2/>
Yoshino, Kenji. “The Choice of the Four Fathers: Henry IV, Falstaff, the Lord Chief Justice, and the King of France in the Henriad.” Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities. 22 Mar 2010. Web. 29 Oct 2011.
Shakespeare, William, and Somogyi N. De. Henry Iv, Part One: The First Part of Henry the Fourth. London: Nick Hern Books, 2006. Print. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=tUuxwwhTIR4C&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=,+I+would+I+could+quit+all+offences+with+as+clear+excuse+within+these+two+howres:+and+so+come+in,+when+yee+will&source=bl&ots=oHa3v5T2us&sig=chXLZ6oS6Ezv6mEo1cA84vPH5No&hl=sw&ei=Tp-vTpLYOc63hAeAu-z2Ag&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
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