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Henry IV, Part 1
William Shakespeare




_____ 1. Shakespeare's principal source for this play was

    A. Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regnum Brittaniae
    B. Holinshed's Chronicles
    C. Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
_____ 2. At the time Henry IV learned of the rebellion, he had been planning
    A. his own invasion of France
    B. to turn his throne over to the Prince of Wales
    C. to undertake an expedition to the Holy Land
_____ 3. King Henry IV was buoyed over the
    A. conquest of the Scots by Hotspur
    B. ransom of Edmund Mortimer
    C. the surrender of Owen Glendower
_____ 4. When Henry is informed of Hotspur's performance, he
    A. belittles the young man's achievement
    B. wishes that his own son were as brave
    C. awards him the title of Earl of Northumberland
_____ 5. Prince Hal calls Falstaff
    I. an old lad of the castle
    II. a purple-headed malt worm
    III. a fat-kidneyed rascal
    A. I and II only
    B. I and III
    C. II and III only
_____ 6. The angry Henry closes his ears to the mention of the name of
    A. the Earl of Westmoreland
    B. the Earl of Worcester
    C. Edmund Mortimer
_____ 7. In describing Falstaff's movement, Prince Hal says
    A. "Here waddles Sir Beer Barrel"
    B. "He lards the earth as he walks along"
    C. "I have seen daintier elephants"
_____ 8. "Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know" is an explanation for keeping a secret, given by
    A. Hotspur to Lady Percy
    B. Prince Hal to Falstaff
    C. Falstaff to Mistress Quickly
_____ 9. Prince Hal also calls Falstaff
    I. bed-presser
    II. horse-back-breaker
    III. huge hill of flesh
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I, II, and III
_____ 10. Falstaff tells his lies at the
    A. tavern in Eastcheap
    B. Mermaid Tavern on the Bankside
    C. Garter Inn in Windsor

11. What role does honor play in Henry IV, Part 1?

12. What is the relationship between the worlds of the court and the tavern in the play?

13. How does Shakespeare guide your feelings about the rebels?

14. Trace one of the major imagery patterns (counterfeiting, disorder, or horsemanship) through the play.

15. Discuss the education of Prince Hal.


_____ 1. The best praise for Falstaff comes from

    A. Prince Hal- when he counters his father's criticism
    B. Falstaff- when he plays the role of King Henry
    C. Poins and Gadshill- when they toast their drinking partner
_____ 2. Rhyming couplets such as away/delay, short/sport, and come/drum generally signify
    A. a nobleman's speech
    B. the end of an act
    C. a line of iambic tetrameter
_____ 3. The rebels show their confidence by
    A. dividing up the map of England
    B. demanding that King Henry surrender
    C. challenging the royal army at Shrewsbury
_____ 4. A critical moment in the play comes when Prince Hal
    A. entrusts Falstaff with the command of foot soldiers
    B. swears to be worthy of his name
    C. offers to meet Owen Glendower in single combat
_____ 5. "Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse, Meet and ne'er part till one drop down a corse" is spoken by
    A. Prince Hal
    B. Hotspur
    C. Archibald, Earl of Douglas
_____ 6. Bad news for the rebels comes with the
    A. Archbishop's proclamation of their excommunication
    B. desertion of 3000 soldiers
    C. absence of Northumberland and Glendower
_____ 7. King Henry seeks to avoid bloodshed by
    A. asking Hotspur and Douglas to accept a truce
    B. offering a full pardon to the rebels if they disperse
    C. offering to redress the rebels' grievances expeditiously
_____ 8. The bloody battle in Act V was precipitated by
    A. Worcester's lie
    B. Hotspur's arrogance
    C. Douglas' duplicity
_____ 9. In the heat of the battle, Prince Hal
    I. slays Douglas, Vernon, and Worcester
    II. kills Hotspur
    III. saves his father's life
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 10. "Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk!" is said by
    A. Hal to Hotspur's body
    B. King Henry to Lord Douglas
    C. Hal to the cowardly Falstaff

11. Discuss how Hotspur and Falstaff serve as models for Prince Hal.

12. What is the relationship between King Henry and Falstaff?

13. Compare the various speeches on Henry's usurpation of the crown.

14. Discuss the motives for the Percy rebellion.


  1. B
  2. C
  3. A
  4. B
  5. B
  6. C
  7. B
  8. A
  9. C
  10. A

11. Honor is one of the most frequently occurring words in the play. Focus on three characters- most likely Hotspur, Falstaff, and Prince Hal- and discuss what honor means to each. Pay particular attention to: Hotspur's reactions in Act I, Scene iii, and throughout Act IV; to Falstaff's speeches on honor in Act V; and to Prince Hal's discussion of the drawers in Act II, Scene iv and his promises to King Henry in Act III, Scene ii. Then you could focus on the battle of Shrewsbury, where the honor of all three characters is tested. Explain how this is done, and what you learn about the characters as a result. Talk about how the pursuit or avoidance of honor guides the characters' action. In your summing up, discuss the relationship between kingship and honor, and between politics and honor. How does Shakespeare's exploration of the many definitions of honor affect your interpretation of the plot?

12. Start by describing each world separately. Who lives in the court, and who in the tavern? Talk about the fact that only Prince Hal lives in both, and why. What are the characters' professions and interests? How do they talk?

Then discuss the relationship between court and tavern. What is common to both worlds? (How are rebellion and robbery related in the play?)

What is different about the two worlds? Talk about Shakespeare's episodic structure and its series of contrasts and comparisons. Look at the sequence of scenes, and their nature or character. Find images common to both worlds, like crowns, stealing, and counterfeiting. Discuss how the imagery relates the two worlds. How are the common themes of rebellion, education, and authority applied to the situations in each world?

13. First identify the Percies as King Henry's former allies. Describe their different versions of Henry's rise to power (look at the speeches of Hotspur and Worcester on the subject). What reasons do they give for the rebellion, and how are you meant to feel about these reasons? Then look briefly at each member of the family. What kind of role does Northumberland, for instance, play in the conspiracy? What about Worcester?

List the Percies' allies, and explain why they were chosen to join the conspiracy.

As soon as the conspiracy is formed, it begins to fall apart. Describe how Shakespeare makes you feel uneasy about the nature of the conspirators, and especially as the battle nears. Look at Hotspur's reaction to the unnamed lord's letter in Act II, Scene iii; the scene in Glendower's castle, where the rebels divide up England and quarrel among themselves; and the scene where only Hotspur, Worcester, and Douglas show up at Shrewsbury. Why do the other rebels (Northumberland, Glendower, and Mortimer) refuse to come? Do you think they ever really intended to show up?

Look at Worcester's reaction to King Henry's offer for peace. Why does Worcester refuse to tell Hotspur about it? What effect does his secrecy have on the outcome of the play?

After the battle, Worcester and Vernon are executed, Hotspur is dead, and Douglas is allowed to go free. Has justice been served? Are the rebels treated fairly by the king? by Hal?

14. Counterfeiting: Define the meaning of counterfeiting, first as minting a false currency and then as acting a role instead of being the person you really are. What is the relationship between Henry's usurped crown (a counterfeit kingship) and the stolen crowns of the thieves?

There are many variations of the image of counterfeiting in the play. Counterfeit crowns, for example, appear as the usurped crown, as stolen crowns; false kings, theatrical kings, imaginary armies, disguised armies. Cracked crowns are also broken heads (in the inn-yard scene of Act II, Scene i). Falstaff counterfeits death at Shrewsbury.

Finally, discuss how the nature of counterfeiting is a theme of the play.

Disorder: Traditionally the images of disease and disorder in the play have been seen as a moral commentary on the state of the kingdom. But you may also chose to see these images as descriptions of the natural condition of man in society, particularly in a monarchy where the nobles feud for power.

Disorder takes the form of broken promises (King Henry), civil war (both in Act I, Scene i and at Shrewsbury), the life in the tavern (pay particular attention to Falstaff's attempts to turn Prince Hal into a king), in a son's disobedience to his father (both Hal and Hotspur), and in the emblems of anarchy discussed in the inn-yard scene.

Disease images also fill the play. Falstaff is obese (describe him at Gad's Hill); Northumberland's illness breeds sickness in the rebels' army; King Henry is nervous and anxious; and before the battle at Shrewsbury, the sun and wind play havoc, reflecting the disease in men who rebel against the state.

Horsemanship: One theme of the play is chivalry- knights in armor fighting on horseback. Hotspur loves riding, but Falstaff is forced to walk, both at Gad's Hill and at Shrewsbury. Prince Hal appears riding to Shrewsbury like a young god of war. Discuss how these three characters' attitudes toward horses and riding reflect their personalities and moral positions in the play.

Horses are also a symbol of vitality. Their presence in this play is one way Shakespeare describes the energy unleashed by the various civil disorders. Although horses can't be brought on stage, describe how Shakespeare makes you hear their hooves pounding (the messengers arriving and departing throughout, armies approaching) through the kingdom. Discuss how the racing and charging of horses described in the imagery creates an impression of haste, and of how time is compressed dramatically through this device.

15. Set up your answer by describing what Hal is like at the beginning of the play, and then what he has proven himself to be by the end. Talk about the tavern world and what he learns there; then talk about the battle of Shrewsbury and what Hal learns there. What leadership qualities has Hal inherited from his father? What other qualities does he acquire and how might they make him a better king than Henry? Conclude your answer by defining a good leader (as you think Shakespeare defines it) and then discuss how Hal does and does not fit that definition by the end of the play.


  1. B
  2. B
  3. A
  4. B
  5. B
  6. C
  7. . B
  8. A
  9. B
  10. A

11. You can begin your discussion with a description of the theme of "the education of a prince." What is Prince Hal's task in the play? Why is it important to the plot? Look at his conversations with Falstaff, at his soliloquy in Act I, scene ii, and at his description of Hotspur in Act II, scene iv.

Demonstrate how Shakespeare educates Prince Hal by comparing him with Hotspur or contrasting him to Falstaff. For this you will first have to list both Hotspur's and Falstaff's chief traits. How do they feel about honor, loyalty, war, justice, and honesty? What are their qualifications for leadership?

Discuss how Hotspur and Falstaff share some personality traits and contrast vividly in others. How do these features compare with Prince Hal's personality? Does the prince share any of them?

Hotspur and Falstaff represent opposite extremes in the code and conduct of life. You can argue that Prince Hal finds a balance between these two extremes or that he picks and chooses among these attitudes, guided by circumstances.

Finally, explain why Prince Hal acts the way he does. Discuss his personality and his motivations. Do his encounters with Hotspur and Falstaff help or hinder his education in kingship?

12. Begin with a discussion of the nature of authority in the play. Talk about the idea of kingship, and about the relationship between fathers and sons.

Then describe King Henry's character. Talk about his moral position as a usurper and a crowned king. Next describe Falstaff's basic characteristics and discuss his profession as a thief and his function as "king of the tavern." How does this mirroring relationship between these two characters make you feel about each of them?

You could concentrate your discussion by comparing: Henry's yearning to go on a crusade and Falstaff's role as "Monsieur Remorse"; the tavern interview and the court interview with Prince Hal; the robbery of the crown from Richard and the robbery of crowns at Gad's Hill; or the armies of counterfeit kings in the tavern and at Shrewsbury.

13. First, sum up the historical events that led Henry to power, as objectively as you can. Then discuss, in the order they appear in the play, each of the various versions you are told of this story. What is included and what is left out? What does this tell you about the character who is speaking and the situation he's in? For example, Henry conveniently forgets about the debts he owes to the Percies because he needs to justify his usurpation to himself. Hotspur sees Henry as a vile politician who murdered Richard, the "sweet, lovely rose," because Hotspur idealizes the past. Worcester says Henry could not help becoming king because he wants to play down Henry's abilities and emphasize the Percies' role.

In your final paragraph discuss what the effect of these different versions of history is. How do they make the audience feel at each point? How do they relate to the themes of the play?

14. Discuss briefly why each of these allies joined the rebellion. For example, begin with the Percies themselves. Worcester and Northumberland fear that Henry is plotting to murder them for their part in the conspiracy to depose Richard II, and they want a bigger share of his power. They plot to give Hotspur three reasons to fight Henry: they create a situation in which the king is forced to insult Hotspur's sense of personal honor with the Scottish prisoners; they give Hotspur a legal claimant to Richard's throne to champion (Mortimer); and they remind Hotspur that their family honor has been badly tarnished for their part in the deposition of Richard. Hotspur, decides to rebel in order to redeem his honor.

Discuss Glendower, Mortimer, York, and Douglas: What do they hope to gain from the rebellion?

Finally, discuss how this rebellion affects England. Is Henry to blame because he created the political conditions for it to ripen in? How does the rebellion express Shakespeare's view of history? Is the Percies' rebellion just one part of the natural chaos that results from deposing a rightful king? How does the rebellion connect to the other themes of the play- leadership, counterfeiting, fathers and sons?

[Henry IV, Part 1 Contents]


  1. How are the images of crowns, hanging, or disorder related to Shakespeare's plot? Follow one of these images through the play and discuss how it affects your impression of characters and events.
  2. Examine the imagery of counterfeiting and play-acting. How does it work as a comment on kingship and politics?
  3. Discuss the qualities a man needs to be a good king? How does Shakespeare explore the nature of kingship?
  4. Examine this play as a satire on chivalry and war. Use the characters of Hotspur, the popinjay lord, Falstaff, and Prince Hal as your guides.
  5. Consider the presentation of women in the play. Compare Lady Percy with the tavern hostess. How do they act toward Hotspur and Falstaff, respectively? What is Lady Mortimer's function in Act III, Scene i?
  6. Compare the carrier scene and the Archbishop of York scene. What are their functions in the play?
  7. Compare Hotspur's scene with Lady Percy (Act II, Scene iii) with the scene between Brutus and Portia in Act II, Scene i of Julius Caesar.
  8. Discuss where you think the center of the play lies. Is it with the rivalry between Hal and Hotspur; with Hal's choice between the worlds represented by Hotspur and Falstaff; or with the consequences of rebellion and crime?
  9. Compare Henry IV's character in Richard II and Henry IV.
  10. Even though we no longer have kings who rule absolutely, our world has dictators and tyrants, civil wars, and rising crime rates. Consider whether the problems of a medieval English king have relevance for you today. What lessons can you learn from this play?
  11. You can see the play as a story about two rival families. Compare the Percies and the royal family in terms of political motivations and actions, and the relationships between fathers and sons.
  12. Examine whether the characters of King Henry, Prince Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff change and develop during the play. If you think any of them does, which of his character traits change, under what conditions, and to what effect? If the character(s) remain the same from beginning to end, what forms the dramatic interest of the plot?

[Henry IV, Part 1 Contents]


Born 1369, known as "Tyneman" in history. Fought at Shrewsbury, but was captured and kept prisoner until 1408. He later fought with the French against Henry V. He was killed in battle in 1424.

Fictitious knight and companion of Prince Hal, based probably on Sir John Oldcastle, who was a companion of the real Henry IV's and possibly a friend to Prince Hal. Oldcastle was born in 1378; he was High Sheriff of Herefordshire and became Lord Cobham by marriage in 1409. He fought in France with Henry V, but was accused of heresy and executed in London in 1417.

Welsh nobleman, Lord of Glyndwyr, descended from Llewellyn, the last of the Welsh kings. Born 1359, he possibly served as a lawyer at Richard II's court, and was educated in England. Glendower first rebelled against Henry IV over the king's handling of a real estate dispute with one of his neighbors. Defeated at Shrewsbury, he joined with the French against Henry V in 1405. Renowned for his magical abilities. Died in 1415.

Born 1367 at Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire, the eldest son of John of Gaunt, who was Duke of Lancaster and a grandson of King Edward III. Created Duke of Hereford under Richard II, he was then banished by Richard in 1398. He returned to England in 1399 to claim his deceased father's title, but with popular support and the approval of Parliament, became king. He ruled England from 1399-1413, when he died (possibly of leprosy) in a chamber in his palace called Jerusalem.

Born 1387 at Monmouth, Wales. The eldest son of King Henry IV, Prince Hal became King Henry V after his father's death in 1413. He conquered France and married the French king's daughter, Katherine. He died in France in 1422, leaving a young child Henry VI, on the throne.

Born 1340, third son of King Edward III. His name derives from his birthplace, Ghent, in Flanders. He was created Earl of Richmond in 1342; Duke of Lancaster in 1361; Duke of Aquitaine in 1390. Died in 1399.

Born 1389, third son of Henry IV. He captured leaders of the northern rebellion and had them executed after promising amnesty. He became Regent of France under King Henry V; later he conquered Orleans and Rouen, where he died in 1435.

Born 1391, he was the heir to his father's claim to the throne after 1398, but he was a friend to Henry V. He died of the plague in 1425.

Born 1374, he was heir designate to Richard II's crown. He died in 1398.

Born 1342, he was the head of the most powerful baronial family in England. Died in 1408.

Born 1364, he was the son of Northumberland and a nephew of Worcester. He died in 1403 at the battle of Shrewsbury, by an unknown hand. He was married to Elizabeth Mortimer, daughter of the third Earl of March.

Born 1342, he was captured and executed at Shrewsbury, 1403.

Born 1366, son of the Prince of Wales, Edward, the Black Prince. When Edward III died (after his son and heir, the Black Prince), Richard assumed the crown at age eleven. John of Gaunt was made Protector of the realm until Richard was twenty years old. Richard suppressed Wat Tyler's rebellion in 1381. He was married twice: in 1382 to Anne of Bohemia, who died in 1394; in 1396 to Isabella of France, (who was only eight years old), for political reasons. Also called Richard of Bordeaux, he was the eighth Plantagenet king. He was deposed and died in mysterious circumstances, 1399-1400.

THE STORY, continued

ECC [Henry IV, Part 1 Contents] []

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