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Henry IV, Part I

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,225332,060 (3.87)98
"I feel that I have spent half my career with one or another Pelican Shakespeare in my back pocket. Convenience, however, is the least important aspect of the new Pelican Shakespeare series. Here is an elegant and clear text for either the study or the rehearsal room, notes where you need them and the distinguished scholarship of the general editors, Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller who understand that these are plays for performance as well as great texts for contemplation." (Patrick Stewart) The distinguished Pelican Shakespeare series, which has sold more than four million copies, is now completely revised and repackaged. Each volume features: * Authoritative, reliable texts * High quality introductions and notes * New, more readable trade trim size * An essay on the theatrical world of Shakespeare and essays on Shakespeare's life and the selection of texts… (more)
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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Henry IV, Part I
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 89
Words: 25K

Synopsis:


From Wikipedia

Henry Bolingbroke—now King Henry IV—is having an unquiet reign. His personal disquiet at the usurpation of his predecessor Richard II would be solved by a crusade to the Holy Land, but trouble on his borders with Scotland and Wales make leaving unwise. Moreover, he is increasingly at odds with the Percy family, who helped him to his throne, and Edmund Mortimer, the Earl of March, Richard II's chosen heir.

Adding to King Henry's troubles is the behaviour of his son and heir, the Prince of Wales. Hal (the future Henry V) has forsaken the Royal Court to waste his time in taverns with low companions. This makes him an object of scorn to the nobles and calls into question his royal worthiness. Hal's chief friend and foil in living the low life is Sir John Falstaff. Fat, old, drunk, and corrupt as he is, he has a charisma and a zest for life that captivates the Prince.

The play features three groups of characters that interact slightly at first, and then come together in the Battle of Shrewsbury, where the success of the rebellion will be decided. First there is King Henry himself and his immediate council. He is the engine of the play, but usually in the background. Next there is the group of rebels, energetically embodied in Henry Percy ("Hotspur") and including his father, the Earl of Northumberland and led by his uncle Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester. The Scottish Earl of Douglas, Edmund Mortimer and the Welshman Owen Glendower also join. Finally, at the centre of the play are the young Prince Hal and his companions Falstaff, Poins, Bardolph, and Peto. Streetwise and pound-foolish, these rogues manage to paint over this grim history in the colours of comedy.

As the play opens, the king is angry with Hotspur for refusing him most of the prisoners taken in a recent action against the Scots at Holmedon. Hotspur, for his part, would have the king ransom Edmund Mortimer (his wife's brother) from Owen Glendower, the Welshman who holds him. Henry refuses, berates Mortimer's loyalty, and treats the Percys with threats and rudeness. Stung and alarmed by Henry's dangerous and peremptory way with them, they proceed to make common cause with the Welsh and Scots, intending to depose "this ingrate and cankered Bolingbroke."[3] By Act II, rebellion is brewing.

Meanwhile, Henry's son Hal is joking, drinking, and thieving with Falstaff and his associates. He likes Falstaff but makes no pretense at being like him. He enjoys insulting his dissolute friend and makes sport of him by joining in Poins' plot to disguise themselves and rob and terrify Falstaff and three friends of loot they have stolen in a highway robbery, purely for the fun of hearing Falstaff lie about it later, after which Hal returns the stolen money. Rather early in the play, in fact, Hal informs us that his riotous time will soon come to a close, and he will re-assume his rightful high place in affairs by showing himself worthy to his father and others through some (unspecified) noble exploits. Hal believes that this sudden change of manner will amount to a greater reward and acknowledgment of prince-ship, and in turn earn him respect from the members of the court.

The revolt of Mortimer and the Percys very quickly gives him his chance to do just that. The high and the low come together when the Prince makes up with his father and is given a high command. He vows to fight and kill the rebel Hotspur, and orders Falstaff (who is, after all, a knight) to take charge of a group of foot soldiers and proceed to the battle site at Shrewsbury.

The battle is crucial because if the rebels even achieve a standoff their cause gains greatly, as they have other powers awaiting under Northumberland, Glendower, Mortimer, and the Archbishop of York. Henry needs a decisive victory here. He outnumbers the rebels,[4] but Hotspur, with the wild hope of despair, leads his troops into battle. The day wears on, the issue still in doubt, the king harried by the wild Scot Douglas, when Prince Hal and Hotspur, the two Harrys that cannot share one land, meet. Finally they will fight – for glory, for their lives, and for the kingdom. No longer a tavern brawler but a warrior, the future king prevails, ultimately killing Hotspur in single combat.

On the way to this climax, we are treated to Falstaff, who has "misused the King's press damnably",[5] not only by taking money from able-bodied men who wished to evade service but by keeping the wages of the poor souls he brought instead who were killed in battle ("food for powder, food for powder").[6] Left on his own during Hal's battle with Hotspur, Falstaff dishonourably counterfeits death to avoid attack by Douglas. After Hal leaves Hotspur's body on the field, Falstaff revives in a mock miracle. Seeing he is alone, he stabs Hotspur's corpse in the thigh and claims credit for the kill.[7] Though Hal knows better, he allows Falstaff his disreputable tricks. Soon after being given grace by Hal, Falstaff states that he wants to amend his life and begin "to live cleanly as a nobleman should do".[8]

The play ends at Shrewsbury, after the battle. The death of Hotspur has taken the heart out of the rebels,[9] and the king's forces prevail. Henry is pleased with the outcome, not least because it gives him a chance to execute Thomas Percy, the Earl of Worcester, one of his chief enemies (though previously one of his greatest friends). Meanwhile, Hal shows off his kingly mercy in praise of valour; having taken the valiant Douglas prisoner, Hal orders his enemy released without ransom.[10] But the war goes on; now the king's forces must deal with the Archbishop of York, who has joined with Northumberland, and with the forces of Mortimer and Glendower. This unsettled ending sets the stage for Henry IV, Part 2.

My Thoughts:

This really should have been entitled “Henry V, the Early Years”. While Henry IV is the titular character, he seems to do little besides provide a reason for more kingdom drama. Everyone is going off to war at a moments notice on what seems pretty much like a whim. During all of this, young Prince Harry (by the by, WHY does the name Henry spawn the nickname Harry? It's not even shorter for goodness sake) is carousing it up and being a blot upon his father's name. He is unfavorably compared to the other Harry, the one leading the rebellion against the King.

In the final battle Harry shows his royal colors and mans it up perfectly. He seems to have set his rascally youthful ways behind him and to take his responsibilities seriously. Of course, all his old low friends are sure they are going to be sitting pretty once Harry becomes King, so they do what they want. Oh ye evil men, Judgement is coming!

Once again, I am loving these history plays. I was actually looking forward to reading this when Shakespeare rolled around in my reading rotation. What a change from earlier plays where that word “Shakespeare” brought dread and dismal despair to my heart. In fact, I seriously thought about just reading Part II of Henry IV but thankfully calmer and wiser heads prevailed (ie, my rational self instead of my emotional self).

★★★★☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Mar 1, 2021 |
I know everyone seems to think that Falstaff is one of the more interesting Shakespearean characters, but seriously? Not that much of a fan… I’m much more intrigued by Prince Hal, who begins the play as a total card-carrying cad yet finishes as the unsung hero of the skirmish against Henry Percy and co. Of course, he’s robbed of his glory by Falstaff, but who knows exactly how much court politics cares about things like that - as long as the crown wins the day and the country remains “safe.” We’re coming up to the beginning of the Wars of the Roses (does this battle count? Likely) and ongoing Hundred Years’ War, so really the country is going to be thrown into even more chaos. But back to Prince Hal. As much as we can’t help but be entertained by his antics early on in the play - poking much fun at Falstaff, thieving from his own father’s exchequer, and gadding about with his pals - it’s slightly disquieting behaviour for someone who is directly in line to the throne. And it’s not like he’s just one of the princes of the English Crown, he’s the heir to the throne after the death of Henry IV (formerly Bolingbroke), so when his father essentially calls him into the court to call him out on this behaviour we can’t help but cheer as well. He quickly recants his past behaviour (presumably in reaction to the seriousness of Henry Percy’s attack on his father’s crown and his own inheritance), and is off to the battlefront to confront the other Henry who shares glory in his (upcoming) realm. Hal expounded his knowledge and wealthy upbringing previous to these moments, but it isn’t until his one on one combat with Percy that he really expounds on his thoughts regarding the monarchy and his own place in it. Shakespeare’s audience may have been of differing opinions when it came to who should have rightly gotten the crown, but with a soliloquy like Hal’s it’s difficult not to think him the superior candidate to Henry Percy whose language is as firey and unbridled as his moniker, Hotspur. Hal takes the crown in the next play, so I’m very intrigued to see how his character develops further. ( )
1 vote JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
The Folger Library deserves a lot of praise for the quality of this ebook edition of this Shakespeare classic with easily accessed footnotes provided in a form that does not distract from the text. Even the typical Foger essays are better in this edition than in most others in their series.

This was the first time I had read Henry IV, part 1 and now understand why it is such a favorite. Knowing Falstaff only from the later works, Falstaff in part 1 is shown to be a brilliant comic character. Hotspur, on the other hand, shows himself to be a poor leader with weak judgement leading to his eventual destruction. In contrast, Prince Hal shows qualities that will make him a fine leader.

One of the themes of the play fits well with the current political landscape since it deals with the presentation of alternate facts about events and the nature of truth.

The play is rich in characters and themes that will allow it to be read with pleasure many times. ( )
  M_Clark | Jan 1, 2021 |
Still one of my most favorite histories, or at least part one of perhaps three. ;)

Our favorite wastrel, Prince Henry, Hal to his friends, a drunkard, a thief, the bosom buddy of dear fat old Falstaff, hides his bright sun behind vile clouds so as to shine all the brighter when his day finally arrives.

In here, of course, we establish the lout with a sharp mind and careful cunning, dissembling for all to see but careful of the long game. When his his father sore needs his son's aid, Hal comes to the rescue, throwing off all such base clouds, or as little as need be, to ensure both his father and the close court of his worthiness, and he does so with flying colors, killing the most worthy night in England, the poor Percy of the Hot Blood, and so restoring both his honor and his valor in both word and deed.

This, of course, is just the prelude. The foreshadowing. The stage upon such things as the Ides of March are set.

Ever since I first read this, I've always called such low tides in men "The Hal Effect".

"Let no one expect shit of thee, and when the time draws neigh, toot your horn and shock the living hell out of them."

;)

Seriously, Shakespeare? Who knew that when Will Shook his Spear, he'd ever have so much to say? ;) ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
No. 18 in The People's Penny Shakespeare, this slim paperback has been used for a performance, intended for the person playing Hotspur. Pencil annotations on the cover suggest this and even the name of the actor, perhaps Miss Rucker - in pencil, with date 9/2/01, 7.30. Some redaction of text has been applied though crossings out and sticky paper.
  jon1lambert | Jun 1, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnet, SylvanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bate, JonathanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bevington, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braunmuller, Albert RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, Harold F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chandler, Frank WadleighEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cowl, R. P.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davison, Peter HobleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edelman, CharlesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farjeon, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gentleman, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, RomaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harbage, AlfredEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, George B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hemingway, Samuel BurdettEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hudson, Henry N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Humphreys, A REditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunter, G. K.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jenkins, HaroldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, RockwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kittredge, George LymanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mack, MaynardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moorman, Frederic W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morgan, A. E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raffel, BurtonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasmussen, EricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, W. J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, James LEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaaber, Matthias AdamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, O. J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, John DoverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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First words
Towards the end of The First Part of King Henry IV, Prince Hal stands over two bodies.

Introduction, New Penguin Shakespeare.
So shaken as we are, so wan with care,

Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,

And breathe short-winded accents of new broils

To be commenc'd in stronds afar remote.
Quotations
If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work.
He hath eaten me out of house and home.
The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is for the complete Henry IV, Part I only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or "simplifications" (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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"I feel that I have spent half my career with one or another Pelican Shakespeare in my back pocket. Convenience, however, is the least important aspect of the new Pelican Shakespeare series. Here is an elegant and clear text for either the study or the rehearsal room, notes where you need them and the distinguished scholarship of the general editors, Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller who understand that these are plays for performance as well as great texts for contemplation." (Patrick Stewart) The distinguished Pelican Shakespeare series, which has sold more than four million copies, is now completely revised and repackaged. Each volume features: * Authoritative, reliable texts * High quality introductions and notes * New, more readable trade trim size * An essay on the theatrical world of Shakespeare and essays on Shakespeare's life and the selection of texts

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714561, 0141013664

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An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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