Henry IV, Part I Third lecture

Henry IV, Part I
Third lecture
“Depose me?”
Power and legitimacy
Can Henry find legitimacy for his
usurped kingship?
• “So shaken as we are, so wan with care . . .”
• How to legitimate his rule: his desire for “new
broils” in a world that might sacralize his reign.
• Against the abomination, impiety of civil war (ll.
• Instead a war to unite England in a sacred
• “BUT this our purpose . . .”
• And now new rebellion from Wales, Glendower.
• And new threats from Scots in North.
• And so he must neglect “our holy purpose” for
Ironies of the new rebellion
• The self-consuming nature of rebellion: Henry’s old allies
now challenge him.
• Worcester’s gaff: I, 3, 12-13. He reminds Henry of his
own rebellion.
• Henry’s bind: Hotspur’s refusal of prisoners, unless
Henry ransoms Mortimer.
• But Mortimer may have as good a claim in the throne as
• Is Henry right about “revolted Mortimer”?
• I, 3, 125ff: with Northumberland, Hotspur, Worcester in
revolt, the pattern that Henry set in motion continues
• How to rule in a world in which kingship has lost its
sense of divine legitimacy?
Henry’s bind:
• He lacks the clear legitimacy Richard
• Rebelling, he has brought rebellion on
• His eldest son seems not fit to inherit the
• Because of rebellion, he cannot try to
“create” legitimacy by a crusade to the
holy land.
Instead of legitimate kingship,
performative kingship
• Lacking legitimacy, Henry must “perform” his kingship.
• He acts the king with Worcester and Northumberland.
• But having a plausible heir apparent would help: His
interview with Hal: III. 2.
• Is Hal in fact a punishment for his rebellion: ll 4-17.
• His own path: ll. 39ff. “Opinion, that did help me to the
crown” – “opinion”? This is a new understanding.
• He managed his appearances: seldom seen, he was
wondered at
• “And then I stole all courtesy from heaven . . .
• And made King Richard his foil.
• Hal needs to perform his prospective kingship.
• Hotspur now giving a better performance of kingship: ll.
Hal’s alternative idea of a
performance of heir-apparent
• He’ll play the part of the reformed prodigal
(soliloquy, I, 2, 188ff “I know you all and will a
while uphold/ The unyoked humor of your
• Now his vision of his reformation: III, 2, 132ff.
• Hotspur his “factor,” a servant to gather up glory.
• He’ll seize Hotspur’s “honor” and exchange it for
his indignities.
• Or die.
• All very neat?
Tavern world as foil – or mirror?
• Hal: “Who,I rob? I a thief?” (I, 2, 134)
• Falstaff: “There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor
good fellowship in thee, nor cam’st not of the
blood royal if thou darest not stand for ten
shillings.” (Ten-shilling coin was a “royal”)
• Treachery of chamberlain in II, 1; he betrays his
• Gadshill: “I am joined with no foot landrakers . . .
but with nobility and tranquility . . .”
• And thieves robbing thieves in II.2.
• Falstaff as king, “deposed” by Hal: II, 4, 420.
• (Later, in H. IV, part 2, Hal will, without intending
it, “depose” his father, “seizing” the crown.)
The rebellion: military realities and
Hotspur’s “honor”
• IV, 1, Hotspur the “king of honor,” but . .
• Northumberland’s sickness “doth infect/ The
very lifeblood of our enterprise.”
• “And yet, in faith, it is not!” Why?
• Hotspur’s rhetorical turn, ll 76ff.
• H: “O that Glendower were come.”
• And Hotspur’s response.
• His eagerness to fight: IV, 3.
• Archbishop of York’s assessment: IV, 4, 19-20.
Is there reason for the rebellion?
Henry’s offer: IV, 3, 46ff.
Hotspur’s response: Henry owes us.
A matter of “honor”?
And Henry’s title isn’t good enough.
Falstaff’s rejoinder to Worcester’s protest, V, 1:
“Rebellion lay in his way and he found it.”
Worcester’s reasons – Henry’s illegitimacy, ingratitude.
Single combat between Hal and Hotspur? Fat chance!
Reiteration of Henry’s offer: 104ff.
Not conveyed to Hotspur! Worcester’s self-interest.
So Hotspur and rebels are outnumbered 3 to 1 and still
want to join battle.
“The king hath many marching in
his coats”
• V, 3: we learn Douglas has already killed
Stafford disguised as king.
• Douglas now kills Blunt disguised as king.
• Audience’s sense of this, and then our
• Douglas: “I’ll murder all his wardrobe.”
• Honor? Men giving their lives for king’s safety.
• Falstaff’s comment on Blunt’s honor.
• “I like not such grinning honor as Sir Walter hath.
Give me life . . .”
Hal’s gallantry, or his gallant
• Vernon’s verbal image: IV, 1, 104.
• His praise of Hotspur and offer of single
combat,V, 1, 83ff.
• V, 4: refuses to leave battle, though he’s
• And he kills Douglas and saves his father! S.d.:
“They fight. The King being in danger, enter the
Prince of Wales.”
• Then defeats Hotspur
• His gallantry to the defeated, dead Hotspur,
finishing his last sentence.
• His double gallantry to brother John and to
Stage image: Hal between Hotspur
and Falstaff
• On stage Falstaff appears dead; we need to
forget what we know from stage direction:
Falstaff “who fall(s) down as if he were dead.”
• To audience, Falstaff appears dead.
• Hotspur also dead.
• Prince Hal stands between them.
• To return to humors theme: Hal appears the
tempered mean between the two extremes.
• “Oh, I should have a heavy miss of thee/ If I
were much in love with vanity.”
• But now he has emerged from vanity of tavern
world, and has won the honor that Hotspur had
striven for.
But “Falstaff riseth up”
• “S’blood, ‘twas time to counterfeit.”
• “Counterfeit? I lie; I am no counterfeit. To die is
to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of
a man who hath not the life of a man; but to
counterfeit dying when a man thereby liveth, is
to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect
image of life indeed. The better part of valor is
discretion, in the which better part I have saved
my life.”
• Take that Hotspur!
• Literally! “Therefore, sirrah, with a new wound in
your thigh, come you along with me.”
• So “Vanity” bears off “Honor”?
Where does this leave Hal?
He has saved his father (his true father).
He has defeated rebellion.
And killed the gallant Hotspur.
He has emerged from the tavern world.
He has performed princely valor.
And now can appear the strong leader his
father had yearned for.
• But is the issue of legitimacy solved?
• Henry in final scene: “Thus ever did rebellion
find rebuke.”
• Well, not exactly.
• But Worcester, a cause of the battle, is
executed. Vernon too.
• Lots of mopping up to be done.
• “Rebellion in this land shall lose his sway,/
Meeting the check of such another day.”
• But there’s still Northumberland, the Archbishop
of York, Glendower and Mortimer.
The political effect of the play?
• Is kingship now a matter of performance,
• Is honor a reality, or a dangerous concept?
• Can legitimacy ever be restored to the
• What’s the “Falstaff effect” on the political