1. Describe the conditions that exist at the inn at Rochester.
2. How do Poins and Hal set Falstaff up for their practical joke?
3. Explain how Falstaff deals with the “thieves” who rob him.
4. What do Hotspur’s comments about the letter writer reveal about his nature?
5. What observation does Lady Percy make regarding Hotspur’s recent behavior?
6. How does Hal display his ability to create a practical joke?
7. Describe Falstaff’s temperament when he arrives at the tavern in Eastcheap.
8. How does Falstaff’s description of the robbery contrast to what really happened?
9. Explain the subtle changes that take place during the “play extempore.”
10. How does Hal manage the sheriff’s investigation of the reported robbery?
1. The conditions that prevail at the inn are such that the “house is turned upside down since Robin Ostler died.” The “peas and beans are as dank” as a dog, and the inn is overrun by fleas. This environment reflects the topsy-turvy world of the King’s court and state of England. Gadshill among his cronies mirrors the treachery that exists within the King’s council.
2. Poins removes Falstaff’s horse so he cannot run away after robbing the travelers. Then Hal tells Falstaff to lie down and “lay thine ear close to the ground, and list if thou canst hear the tread of travelers.” Poins and Hal arrange to have Falstaff and his gang meet the travelers “in a narrow lane” while Hal and Poins go off to another place with the excuse that if the travelers elude Falstaff they will be sure to meet up with Hal and Poins.
3. Falstaff and his men rob the travelers, bind them, and share the money. Then they are set upon by Hal and Poins. Falstaff is left alone after Bardolph and Peto run away. When he is “attacked” by Hal and Poins, he attempts to defend himself, gets scared, leaves the money, and runs away.
4. Hotspur responds to the letter with disgust because he considers the letter writer “a shallow, cowardly hind…a lack brain…a frosty spirited rogue…such a dish of skim milk.” The caution which is suggested in the letter is interpreted as weakness by Hotspur.
5. Lady Percy observes that lately Hotspur has ignored her, lost his appetite, lost his sleep, and seems pensive. She even tells him that in his sleep he speaks “of sallies…trenches…tents… prisoners’ ransom” and seems to be at war with something.
6. While Hal waits for Falstaff to return after the robbery, he enlists the aid of Poins to play a practical joke on Francis, the waiter at the inn. In his scheme, he sends Poins off to another part of the inn and instructs him to call Francis while Hal engages Francis in a conversation. The interruptions increase until Francis is torn in two different directions.
7. When Falstaff arrives at the inn, he is exhausted and annoyed at the cowardice of his comrades who deserted him during the “robbery.” He is perturbed over the “roguery to be found in villainous man.”
8. Falstaff tells his story and exaggerates the number of men who attacked Bardolph, Peto, and him. He also lies about how brutally he was attacked when he points out his ripped shirt, fallen stockings, bent buckler, and dented sword.
9. The “play extempore” begins in the humorous vein with which Falstaff and Hal’s relationship was introduced at the beginning of the play. Falstaff, as King Henry, teases with “that thou art my son I have partly thy mother’s word, partly my own opinion.” Hal, as himself, mocks Falstaff as “a tun of man.” However, they switch parts, and Hal’s tone when he calls Falstaff “villainous…in all things,” suggests that there is some truth to his accusation. Consequently, Falstaff remarks “I would your Grace would you take me with you.” It appears that Falstaff is speaking as himself and not as Hal.
10. To keep Falstaff out of trouble, Hal tells the sheriff that the “gross fat man” is not present and that Hal will “send him to answer thee.”