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Scene Summaries With Notes
The setting is Northumberland’s Castle at Warkworth in England. The induction is a forty-line prologue spoken by Rumor. Rumor is personified as a figure adorned with tongues and eyes, sings alike of truth and falsehood.
Rumor asks the people to open their ears to hear him. He comes with false statements on his tongue to damage the reputation of the people. When he speaks of peace as secret enmity under the smile of safety, he wounds the world. He confuses the people regarding the actual outcome of the battle of Shrewsbury. Rumor speaks the truth at first. King Henry’s forces crushed the rebels. Then he falsely reports that Henry Monmouth fell under the wrath of Hotspur and the Earl of Douglas subdued King Henry. King Henry had to kneel his crowned head before the Earl of Douglas. Such false reports were spread in all the towns between Shrewsbury and Warkworth where castles and city walls were falling into pieces and where Northumberland was hiding.
An induction is a scene or monologue introductory to the main action. This Induction is spoken by “Rumor,” an allegorical figure, adorned with tongues and eyes and sings alike of truth and falsehood. In the theatrical sense, “Rumor” is the presenter, who gives the audience an idea of what the play is about. The lines, “I speak of peace, while covert enmity/ Under the smile of safety wounds the world,” suggests the chaos and confusions prevailing in the country at that time. The enmity existing between the King and the rebel leaders is pointed out clearly. Rumor’s nature is to spread “surmises, jealousies, conjectures,” and it is on these false surmises that King Henry and others plan their future. The King is unable to maintain a tranquil rule because of the existing secret enmity and lack of harmony among the people. The state of the country torn by civil wars and full of confusions is vividly portrayed here. The line, “this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,/ Where Hotspur’s father, old Northumberland,/ Lies Crafty-sick,” shows the ruined condition of the city. Castles and city walls were falling into pieces in Shakeapeare’s day. Amidst these confusions, Northumberland, instead of joining his son at Shrewsbury, stays at home on the pretext of being sick. This shows that he is more concerned with his own safety.
The Induction also serves to link the two parts of Henry IV. An atmosphere of “Melancholy” is revealed even at the beginning of the play. Rumor’s reports of the war indicate that a war is going on and the outcome of it is unpredictable.