SHAKESPEARE and his play Henry IV – Discussion Questions

part 1

1. The play begins with King Henry IV fretting over his political problems. What are these problems and how does he characterize them?

2. The play pivots in tone and location from King Henry’s problems to that of his son, Prince Henry. How do father and son seem to compare to each other? How does his relationship with Falstaff compare with his father’s relationship with Westmorland?

3. At the end of scene 1.2, Prince Henry makes a short soliloquy. Who seems to be the audience? How does he use environmental and cosmic imagery to describe himself, and what might these images suggest about his identity and ambitions?

Part 2

1. Act 2 invites us to compare the two Henrys: Henry Percy (or Hotspur) and Prince Henry (Hal). How are they similar? How are they different?

2. At the end of 1.2, Hal compares himself to the sun that allows himself to be disguised by clouds. Where do we see Harry disguising himself in Act 2, and where does his “sunly” nature seem to glimmer through the disguise?

3. Near the end of Act 2, Prince Hal and Falstaff engage in a bit of role-play. What is the purpose of this role play, and what does it reveal about both Prince Hal as well as Falstaff?

 

 

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