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King Henry IV Study Guide
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King Henry IV, Part 1
Act 1 Scene 1
1. The king opens the play by referring to the past. What has been the principal feature of his reign?
2. He makes plans for a crusade. What are his political motives? What does this tell us about him?
3. How can you tell that Henry is
a) a king with problems:
b) a father with problems:
4. Who is King Henry IV talking to in this scene?
5. What does he mean when Henry says, "No longer shall we water our native soil with the blood of our fellow countrymen."?
6. Why does Henry IV decide to postpone his plans for a crusade?
7. Who has beaten the Earl of Douglas, a Scottish leader?
8. Why does Henry IV wish that a fairy had exchanged two children in their cradles? Which two children is he talking about?
9. Westmoreland identifies Worcester as the king's enemy. What does he accuse him of?
10. "So shaken as we are, so wan with care" (lines 1-33) In this speech, what 3 unnatural and undesirable experiences does the king say the soil of England has experienced?
11. Identify examples of personification, simile, and metaphor and explain how they contribute to the effectiveness of the speech.
Act 1 Scene 2
1. "I know you all, and will awhile uphold" Why is the prince's soliloquy in blank verse, whereas the rest of the scene is in prose?
2. What impressions of Prince Hal do we gain from the first reference to him in the play? Does his first appearance in the play confirm what has been said about him?
3. Find examples of:
Prince Hal's sense of humor:
His skill in wordplay:
his knowledge of low life:
his pleasure in provoking Jack Falstaff;
4. Falstaff invites the prince to join him in a highway robbery.
What is the prince's instinctive response?
What makes him change his mind?
What is his explanation for his lifestyle as expressed in the soliloquy at the end of this scene, and what does
this tell us about his character?
Why do you think this soliloquy is in blank verse?
5. The banter between the prince and Falstaff in this scene contains a catalogue of references to the latter's vices. List as many of them as you can find.
6. Give examples of Falstaff's:
skill in wordplay:
skill in punning:
skill in turning vice into apparent virtue:
7. Why is Falstaff's roguish way of life amusing here rather than blameworthy?
8. At the scene of the Gad's Hill robbery, Falstaff is, as usual, the butt of insults and jokes. Read his soliloquy at the beginning of the scene, and the dialogue immediately following. Choose examples of:
9. The ambush of the travelers is taken by Falstaff as an opportunity for further outrageous fun. Explain the preposterousness of:
his allusions to age:
his allusions to fatness:
10. Why is cowardice so amusing in this scene?
11. What "rewards" come the way of the executioners?
Act 1 Scene 3
1. We see the king in the Council Chamber, dealing with a subject who has been described earlier as "malevolent." In his opening speech, what does the king accuse himself of?
2. Henry says he will change. In what way?
3. In his handling of Northumberland and his son, Hotspur:
what makes Henry angry:
which of his words show that he is unforgiving but honest:
4. Hotspur calls Henry "this unthankful King," "this ingrate," "this forgetful man," and early in the scene Worcester reveals the reason for the allegation. Explain it.
5. What does Worcester say towards the end of the scene which shows he is in agreement with Hotspur?
6. Why is Hotspur at cross-purposes with the king, and what word in particular goads him into an angry outburst? What do we learn from this exchange of words about Hotspur's behavior when provoked?
7. What evidence is there that Worcester and Northumberland know how to lead him on?
8. What is Hotspur's attitude toward honor?
9. Hotspur is demanding something before he turns over his 1000 prisoners-of-war to Henry IV. What is it?
10. What is Henry's response to the ransom demand?
11. Why does Henry IV think of Mortimer as a threat?
12. What plan does Northumberland tell Hotspur about?