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Act I, Scene 2
The scene begins with a pun-filled dialogue between Falstaff and his newly acquired page. Falstaff says that men take pride in making fun of him, and thinks that Hal is mocking him. The page announces the arrival of the Lord Chief Justice of England identifying him as the man who had sent the Hal to prison for attempting to circumvent justice on behalf of Bardolph after the Gadsgill robbery (Henry IV Part 1, Act 2 ). Falstaff tries to avoid the Chief Justice but the latter reproves the knight for ignoring his summons to appear before him and says that Falstaff lives in great infamy. Falstaff is denounced as a good- for-nothing person who has misled the young Prince and as one who defies convention and the principle of decorum befitting an elderly man. To all this accusations, Falstaff gives witty replies. He also informs the Chief Justice that the King had asked him once more to serve by joining the army against York and Northumberland. When the Chief Justice gives him his blessings on the enterprise, Falstaff asks him for a loan of a thousand pounds.
This scene gives us a full portrait of Falstaff. His first line, “What says the doctor to my water?,” indicates he is worried about his health. Falstaff’s comments reveal his matchless wit and his ability to invoke laughter.
Falstaff confronts the Chief Justice of England, a very dedicated legal official, who becomes a formidable person in the drama. The opening encounter between these two, in which Falstaff makes believe not to see or hear his accusations, is symbolic of Falstaff’s whole attitude to law. But the voice, which he at first refuses to hear, is the voice which will pronounce his final sentence. When the Chief Justice says he wants to have a word with Falstaff, the latter inquires about the former’s health and tries to avoid the issue.
From the conversation between the two we come to understand that the King is suffering from apoplexy (paralysis). When the Chief Justice blesses him on his enterprise of serving the King, Falstaff asks for a loan of a thousand pounds. He sends his page with letters to John of Lancaster, to Hal and to old mistress Ursula, whom he had promised to marry in order to raise the money. He concludes, “A good wit will make use of anything.”