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Henry IV, Part II

par William Shakespeare

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2,184275,615 (3.73)59
Prince Hal parts from his past to fulfill his royal destiny in this essential conclusion to Henry IV, Part 1. Rebellion still simmers in England and King Henry's health is failing. Prince Hal has proved his courage but the king still fears that his son's pleasure-loving nature will bring the realm to ruin. Meanwhile, Falstaff and his ribald companions waste the nights in revelry, anticipating the moment when Hal will ascend the throne. Falstaff is in Gloucestershire when news arrives that the king has died. Has the dissolute old knight's hour come at last? Hal is played by Jamie Glover and King Henry by Julian Glover. Richard Griffiths is Falstaff.… (plus d'informations)
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Just a killer play. Pistol cracks, Doll Tearsheet simpers, Shallow blusters, and Prince John connives. To be fair, it wouldn't be possible for Part 2 to be so successful at what it does if it didn't follow Part 1 (as contrasted with something like Henry V or Merry Wives, which repeat many characters but stand alone), and it has less of a "structure" than it has a "way to tie up the loose ends of the previous play". But, in my opinion, it is still massively underappreciated and does a lot of interesting and exciting things, including containing one of the saddest lines in Shakespeare: "I know thee not, old man." If Part 1 is almost a Comedy, Part 2 seems to me like the Shakespeare History that comes closest to his Problem Play mold, which I love. Falstaff's boisterous energy drops down sometimes to more of a pessimistic Pandar or Parolles, Quickly & Doll capture the spirit of Overdone, and Henry, Hal, and the Lord Chief Justice all deal in the Measure-ish themes of strictness and hypocrisy. You may leave the play liking some characters a bit less, but in a way that makes you appreciate their story more. And who doesn't love Rumour, painted full of tongues?

The only arena where this play doesn't quite live up to its successor is the rebellion plot. In addition to undercutting the end of Part 1 by stringing the insurrection along (yes I know this is based on real historical events, but come on, it's the Shakespeare version), and repeating many points (Northumberland chickens out AGAIN, Falstaff makes money off his measly soldiers and wins undue fame AGAIN), I miss the verve and impetuosity brought by Hotspur. Instead of being able to genuinely root for the rebels, the attitude I'm left is more "oh, just give up already." Prince John's doublecross is genuinely surprising and great, though. Truly his father's son.

In general, I really love this play, and think it the potential to make many a moving production. It's not one I'd feel devastated to cut down for performance (in fact I think it would benefit in many places), but it contains some great language and some stellar scenes, and overall is I think, vital reading/hearing/viewing for the fans of Part 1, Henry V, really any of the histories, or Shakespeare in general. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
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 II
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 103
Words: 28K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The play picks up where Henry IV, Part 1 left off. Its focus is on Prince Hal's journey toward kingship, and his ultimate rejection of Falstaff. However, unlike Part One, Hal's and Falstaff's stories are almost entirely separate, as the two characters meet only twice and very briefly. The tone of much of the play is elegiac, focusing on Falstaff's age and his closeness to death, which parallels that of the increasingly sick king.

Falstaff is still drinking and engaging in petty criminality in the London underworld. He first appears followed by a new character, a young page whom Prince Hal has assigned him as a joke. Falstaff enquires what the doctor has said about the analysis of his urine, and the page cryptically informs him that the urine is healthier than the patient. Falstaff delivers one of his most characteristic lines: "I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men." Falstaff promises to outfit the page in "vile apparel" (ragged clothing). He then complains of his insolvency, blaming it on "consumption of the purse." They go off, Falstaff vowing to find a wife "in the stews" (i.e., the local brothels).

The Lord Chief Justice enters, looking for Falstaff. Falstaff at first feigns deafness in order to avoid conversing with him, and when this tactic fails pretends to mistake him for someone else. As the Chief Justice attempts to question Falstaff about a recent robbery, Falstaff insists on turning the subject of the conversation to the nature of the illness afflicting the King. He then adopts the pretense of being a much younger man than the Chief Justice: "You that are old consider not the capacities of us that are young." Finally, he asks the Chief Justice for one thousand pounds to help outfit a military expedition, but is denied.

He has a relationship with Doll Tearsheet, a prostitute, who gets into a fight with Ancient Pistol, Falstaff's ensign. After Falstaff ejects Pistol, Doll asks him about the Prince. Falstaff is embarrassed when his derogatory remarks are overheard by Hal, who is present disguised as a musician. Falstaff tries to talk his way out of it, but Hal is unconvinced. When news of a second rebellion arrives, Falstaff joins the army again, and goes to the country to raise forces. There he encounters an old school friend, Justice Shallow, and they reminisce about their youthful follies. Shallow brings forward potential recruits for the loyalist army: Mouldy, Bullcalf, Feeble, Shadow and Wart, a motley collection of rustic yokels. Falstaff and his cronies accept bribes from two of them, Mouldy and Bullcalf, not to be conscripted.

In the other storyline, Hal remains an acquaintance of London lowlife and seems unsuited to kingship. His father, King Henry IV is again disappointed in the young prince because of that, despite reassurances from the court. Another rebellion is launched against Henry IV, but this time it is defeated, not by a battle, but by the duplicitous political machinations of Hal's brother, Prince John. King Henry then sickens and appears to die. Hal, seeing this, believes he is King and exits with the crown. King Henry, awakening, is devastated, thinking Hal cares only about becoming King. Hal convinces him otherwise and the old king subsequently dies contentedly.

The two story-lines meet in the final scene, in which Falstaff, having learned from Pistol that Hal is now King, travels to London in expectation of great rewards. But Hal rejects him, saying that he has now changed, and can no longer associate with such people. The London lowlifes, expecting a paradise of thieves under Hal's governance, are instead purged and imprisoned by the authorities.

Epilogue

At the end of the play, an epilogue thanks the audience and promises that the story will continue in a forthcoming play "with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katharine of France; where, for all I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat". In fact, Falstaff does not appear on stage in the subsequent play, Henry V, although his death is referred to. The Merry Wives of Windsor does have "Sir John in it", but cannot be the play referred to, since the passage clearly describes the forthcoming story of Henry V and his wooing of Katherine of France. Falstaff does "die of a sweat" in Henry V, but in London at the beginning of the play. His death is offstage, described by another character and he never appears. His role as a cowardly soldier looking out for himself is taken by Ancient Pistol, his braggart sidekick in Henry IV, Part 2 and Merry Wives.

My Thoughts:

The Adventures of Prince Henry continue! Or shall I say, Prince Harry? Even with Fraggle's “explanation” in the comments of Part I, it still makes absolutely no sense to me how even a frenchified Henri could morph into Harry. But as she said, humans were bonkers even in Medieval England.

Which would explain a lot of history and this play. So King Henry IV is fighting insurrections and his best friends have turned on him and he's sick and his heir apparent is a partying hound dog who flouts the law at every chance. Not a very good place to be in. What's keeping him alive is the prophecy that he would die in Jerusalem. So after this fighting is done he's planning on taking the lords of the realm to Israel and fight the saracens.

And then his heir turns out to be a pretty good guy. He fights like a demon, is charismatic, gives up his wastrel ways and turns on his evil companions. At the same time, King Henry's enemies pretty much give up without a fight, like their backbones just melted into soup.

It doesn't do Henry much good, as he's sick to death. He and Harry are reconciled and Henry is taken to a room to die. Upon his death bed he sees that he is in the Jerusalem room, thus fulfilling the prophecy. Henry V is crowned king and vows to war on the damned frenchies.

★★★★☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Apr 14, 2021 |
Even after watching the Hollow Crown I couldn't bring myself to really get engaged with the characters in this play. I guess the story is about the changing monarchy and the lack of stability in the English Crown, but absolutely none of the characters are sympathetic. Even the dashing rogue Prince Hal is eventually gutted by his sense of duty, and it's not even a willing acceptance and rising to the occasion so much as a resignation and betrayal of his friends. Though they don't seem much like actual friends, because they do little in the way of encouraging his better character, speak ill of him behind his back, and plan to ride his coattails straight into a lordship... Maybe the last play in this set will elevate Henry V to a better kingship, but my bet is on him further weakening the Crown by foolish military action in preparation for the Yorkist/Tudor rebellions. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Having just finished the excellent Folger e-book for Henry IV, part 1, I found their edition of Henry IV, part 2 disappointing. The footnotes were poor, with footnotes provided for things that did not need any clarification while omitting footnotes where an explanation would have been useful.

The play itself is also less interesting than Henry IV, part 1 with less drama and fewer themes worth following. Part 2 has a bigger role for Falstaff who becomes less attractive upon acquaintance. Part 2 also spends a lot more time with the the humerous Eastcheap characters. ( )
  M_Clark | Jan 3, 2021 |
I can't consider these plays as solitary occasions. I'm all teary-eyed.

Who knew I could shed tears for poor old Falstaff, even now? I mean, sure, he's a fool and a rascal and incorrigible, but at the core of it, he and Hal were friends, weren't they?

And yet, even while I hate Hal a little for his decision, I love him all the more for it and everything else. Truly, he was the best king. Not only very aware of his audience, but always playing to every side, learning the craft of people and of hard decisions.

Then again, he's always known about hard decisions and all of this couldn't have been more studied and careful. Even his jests boast of tactical genius.

Fanboy? Yeah. I am. Of a character. lol

Still, it was a rather heart-wrenching scene with the prince and his father at the end. *sniffle*

Sorry. I just love these plays so much. ( )
1 voter bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Shakespeare, Williamauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionsconfirmé
Bate, JonathanDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Braunmuller, Albert RichardDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Briers, LucyNarrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Briers, RichardNarrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Brissaud, PierreIllustrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Bulman, James C.Directeur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Davison, Peter HobleyDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
de Souza, EdwardNarrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Dover Wilson, JohnDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Glover, JamieNarrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Harrison, George B.Directeur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Hemingway, Samuel BurdettDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Hodges, C. WalterConcepteur de la couvertureauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Holland, Norman NorwoodDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Humphreys, Arthur RaleighDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Mowat, Barbara A.Directeur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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Poole, AdrianDirecteur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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Rolfe, William J.Directeur de publicationauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
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This work is for the complete Henry IV, Part II 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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Prince Hal parts from his past to fulfill his royal destiny in this essential conclusion to Henry IV, Part 1. Rebellion still simmers in England and King Henry's health is failing. Prince Hal has proved his courage but the king still fears that his son's pleasure-loving nature will bring the realm to ruin. Meanwhile, Falstaff and his ribald companions waste the nights in revelry, anticipating the moment when Hal will ascend the throne. Falstaff is in Gloucestershire when news arrives that the king has died. Has the dissolute old knight's hour come at last? Hal is played by Jamie Glover and King Henry by Julian Glover. Richard Griffiths is Falstaff.

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