Act I Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What are King Henry’s concerns at the opening of Act I?

2. What news does Westmoreland bring to King Henry regard¬ing the political state of affairs in England?

3. Explain Henry’s disappointment in his son Hal.

4. Describe the relationship between Hal and Falstaff.

5. Explain the joke that Poins plans to play on Falstaff with the help of Hal.

6. What does Hal reveal about his position as Prince of Wales and the company of friends he keeps?

7. Explain King Henry’s reaction to Worcester at the opening of Scene iii.

8. What defense does Hotspur offer on his own behalf with respect to the accusation that he denied prisoners?

9. Why does Hotspur become so angry when Henry refuses to pay ransom for Mortimer?

10. How do Northumberland and Worcester calm Hotspur down at the end of Scene iii?

1. King Henry’s concerns involve sending an army to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusades and suppressing rebellions that are occurring in England. It is no surprise that at the beginning of the play we meet a king “so shaken” and “wan with care” because of his concern for his kingdom.

2. Westmoreland brings Henry news that the issue of an army to the Crusades was being heavily discussed when news came that “the noble Mortimer, / Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight” against Glendower was taken by Glendower. He adds that thousands of people were butcher¬ed in the fight, and Welshwomen performed “shameless transformation” upon the corpses. Also, in Scotland, Hotspur succeeded in taking “that ever-valiant, and approved Scot,” Archibald, Earl of Douglas.

3. After Henry hears of Hotspur’s valiant efforts, King Henry is disappointed that he sees “riot and dishonor” in his son Hal. The discrepancy between Hotspur’s action and Hal’s inaction on the field give Henry cause to wonder if “some night-tripping fairy had exchanged” his son for Hal when they were babies.

4. Hal and Falstaff share a relationship of mutual affection that is demonstrated through the constant matching of verbal wits. Hal’s disparaging remarks to Falstaff with respect to his drinking and his weight are countered by Falstaff’s taunts about Hal’s inexperience and naiveté.

5. Poins wants to play a practical joke on Falstaff in which he and Hal disguise themselves as thieves and then pretend to rob Falstaff after he and the rest of the gang rob the travelers on the road near Gad’s Hill.

6. In his soliloquy at the end of Scene ii, Hal recognizes that his madcap adventures are temporary and must end some day, as he will “imitate the sun.” With this play on the word sun, Hal suggests that, like the sun which often appears from behind dark clouds, he will some day appear from behind the common side of life to prove himself as the King’s son “redeeming time when men think least” that he will.

7. The King distrusts Worcester because of the “danger and disobedience” he sees in Worcester’s eyes. Henry is also impatient with “these indignites” on behalf of the Percys, so he dismisses Worcester until he is needed.

8. When King Henry accuses Hotspur of denying prisoners, Hotspur defends his actions by stating that he did not intentionally deny the prisoners. He tells of how battle weary he was when someone from the court demanded the prisoners. The “certain lord” who was “perfumed like a milliner” and spoke “with many holiday and lady terms” offended Hotspur, so in his disgust he answered neglectfully.

9. Henry believes that Mortimer voluntarily joined the rebel forces, so he calls Mortimer a traitor. This angers Hotspur who believes that Mortimer “never did fall off” and continues to describe the fierce battle Mortimer waged with Glendower.

10. Northumberland and Worcester calm Hot¬spur down by intimating that the rebellion which is “ruminated, plotted, and set down” only needs a single occasion to bring it to fruition.

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Act II Questions and Answers