The stirring continuation of the themes begun in Henry IV, Part One again pits a rebellion within the State and that master of misrule, Falstaff, against the maturing of Prince Hal. Alternating scenes between bawdy tavern and regal court, between revelry and politics, Shakespeare probes at the sources, uses, and responsibilities of power as an old king dies and a young king must choose between a ruler's solemn duty and a merry but dissipated friend, Falstaff. The play represents Shakespeare at the peak of his maturity in writing historical drama and comedy.
From the Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Henry IV, Part Two|
|Release Date: 05-16-2012|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Henry IV, Part Two|
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Henry IV, Part Two
Shakespeare wrote 2 Henry IV quite soon after 1 Henry IV, perhaps in 1597, partly, no doubt, to capitalize on the enormous theatrical success of Falstaff and partly to finish the story of Falstaff’s rejection. In writing 2 Henry IV, Shakespeare drew on materials similar to those used for 1 Henry IV, notably Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587) and the anonymous play The Famous Victories of Henry V (1583—1588). Moreover, he undertook to write a play that structurally is much like its predecessor, revealing more similarity between these plays than one can find elsewhere in Shakespeare. Even the three Henry VI plays do not reiterate structural patterns to the same degree. Is Shakespeare repeating himself, rewriting the earlier play, and, if so, why? Is 2 Henry IV essentially a way of giving audiences more of what they had found so entertaining in the earlier play, or is it a way of reflecting on new and troublesome issues only partially raised in 1 Henry IV? The similarities are indeed marked, though, as we shall see, their chief function may be to highlight the important contrasts that arise through a consideration of the surface resemblances.
The structural pattern runs as follows. In both plays, Shakespeare alternates between scenes of political seriousness and scenes of comic irresponsibility, juxtaposing a rebellion in the land with a rebellion in the King’s own family. In 1 Henry IV, we move from a council of war (1.1) to a planning of the robbery at Gad’s Hill (1.2). The scenes comment on each other by their nearness and by their mutual concern with lawlessness. Similarly, in 2 Henry IV, we are at first introduced to a p