Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*London streets. This location is usually the realm of the comic chaos of lower-class life that constitutes much of the background of the play. The tavern-haunting Falstaff and his villainous companions embody the vigor, confusion, and immorality of London street life.
*Westminster Palace. Royal palace, adjacent to Westminster Abbey in London, where King Henry agonizes over the outcome of the rebellion of Northumberland and his accomplices. As his health wanes, his son Prince Henry arrives, and he advises the prince to keep his nobles busy by pursuing “foreign quarrels.”
King Henry had once been told that he would die in Jerusalem. After learning that a chamber in his palace is named “Jerusalem,” he orders that he be taken there to die, and his son becomes King Henry V.
Justice Shallow’s house
Justice Shallow’s house. Gloucestershire location of Falstaff’s ludicrous efforts to recruit soldiers for the royal army.
*Warkworth Castle. Northumberland headquarters of the earl of Northumberland, head of the Percy family and a leader of the rebellion against Henry IV.
*Gaultree Forest. Yorkshire location of the deception and capture of the rebel leaders Mowbray, Hastings, and the archbishop of York by Henry IV’s other son, Prince John....
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One of the most popular characters ever created by Shakespeare is the fat old knight Sir John Falstaff, who was appealing to Elizabethan theater-goers and remains so with audiences today. Critics have observed that his popularity is partly the result of his multifaceted personality. He seems cowardly when he runs from the Gadshill robbery in Henry IV, Part One, yet his actions suggest bravery when he appears twice on the battlefield—at Shrewsbury in Henry IV, Part One and then again outside the forest of Gaultree in Henry IV, Part Two. He is dishonest and insensitive in his dealings with Shallow in Henry IV, Part Two, but his affection for both Doll Tearsheet (Henry IV, Part Two) and Prince Hal (Henry IV, Part One and Two) appears to be genuine.
Falstaff is also appealing because he is so outrageous. When caught in a lie or an insult, he usually manages to come up with an unbelievable but witty excuse, as he does after exaggerating the facts of the Gadshill robbery in Henry IV, Part One and when he slanders Hal and Poins at the Boar's Head Tavern in Henry IV, Part Two. As Poins warns the prince in Henry IV, Part Two—"my lord, [Falstaff] will drive you out of your revenge and turn all to a merriment..." if he is allowed to get away with it (II.iv.297-98).
According to most accounts, Falstaff was extremely popular in Elizabethan times. In...
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Bacon, Wallace A. "Margery Bailey Memorial Lectures I: The Diseased State in Henry IV, Part Two." Speech Monographs 40 (June 1973): 75-87. Bacon defends Hal's rejection of Falstaff and argues that Henry IV, Part Two is meant to reassure us that the prince is capable of being a good leader. In connection with these issues, Bacon also discusses the disease imagery that occurs in the play, noting that most of it centers around Falstaff.
Barish, Jonas A. "The Turning Away of Prince Hal." Shakespeare Studies (U.S.) 1 (1965): 18-28. Barish supports the argument that Falstaff remains appealing in Henry IV, Part Two despite his deterioration, so that when Hal rejects him at the end of the play, we sympathize with Falstaff and condemn the new king for his loss of compassion.
Henze, Richard. "Odds and Opportunities in 2 Henry IV." Southern Quarterly 15 (July 1977): 403-11. Henze asserts that the rejection of Falstaff and the destruction of the rebels occur because neither fully understands the values at work in society: Falstaff lives simply for the moment and forgets to calculate the odds for his success in the future, and the rebels are unaware that the traditional notion of honor has been replaced by opportunism.
Holland, Norman N. Introduction to Henry IV, Part Two, by William Shakespeare. In The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, edited by Sylvan Barnet, 678-85....
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ornstein, Robert. A Kingdom for a Stage. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972. In a critical study that includes all of Shakespeare’s history plays, Ornstein devotes a chapter to Henry IV, Part II. He describes Hal’s development and his rejection of Falstaff.
Pearlman, Elihu. William Shakespeare: The History Plays. Boston: Twayne, 1992. A valuable scholarly overview of the histories. The chapter on Henry IV, Part II is divided into numerous brief analyses of characters and themes.
Porter, Joseph A. The Drama of Speech Acts. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979. Analyzes speech and oratory in the second tetralogy. A chapter on Henry IV, Part II explores the contrasts between Falstaff’s speech and Hal’s.
Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare’s History Plays. London: Chatto & Windus, 1944. Strong on historical interpretation, Tillyard’s study explores the important themes of the second tetralogy. Traces the growth and development of Hal’s character.
Traversi, Derek Antona. Shakespeare: From “Richard II” to “Henry V.” Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. A close reading of the second tetralogy includes a chapter on Henry IV, Part II that emphasizes character development and style....
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Bibliography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Ackroyd, Peter. Shakespeare: The Biography. New York: Doubleday, 2005.
Barber, C. L. The Whole Journey: Shakespeare’s Power of Development. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
Bevington, David. Shakespeare: The Seven Ages of Human Experience. 2d ed. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2005.
Callaghan, Dympna. Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2005.
Dutton, Richard, and Jean E. Howard, eds. A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2003.
Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004.
Hopkins, Lisa. Beginning Shakespeare. New York: Manchester University Press, 2005.
McDonald, Ross, ed. Shakespeare: An Anthology of Criticism, 1945-2000. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2004.
Schoenbaum, Samuel. William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Wells, Stanley, and Lena Cowen Orlin. Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
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