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MonkeyNotes-Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
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Notes

The basic theme of the play “disorder versus order” is brought out. The resolution of the entire action is provided. This is the coronation scene of the new King. The most noteworthy part is the rejection of Falstaff, who had been the King’s friend. Falstaff learns that his wit will not serve him. It gives the picture of the completely reformed young Henry, who now justifies himself by acts and not merely by promises. The play has a happy ending for England and Henry V, but not for the characters from the Boar’s Head, and the prophecy that England will deteriorate in the hands of Henry V is proven untrue. The rejection of Falstaff is itself symbolic of the restoration of law and order in the state. Corruption and vice are more controlled than under the rule of Henry IV. Note the lines: “I know thee not, old man, Fall to thy prayers./ How ill white hairs becomes a fool and jester/ I have long dreamt of such a man,/ So surfeit-swell’d, so old, and so profane;/ But being awak’d I do despise my dream.” The speech of the new King is very formal, unlike the friendly way he spoke when he was a carefree prince. He in a matured manner like the Chief Justice.


The adoption of the Justice and the Coronation has completed the process of his separation from Falstaff (injustice). When Falstaff first addresses him and says, “God save thee, my sweet boy,” he tries to avoid the encounter, begging the Lord Chief Justice to say for him what must be said. The Justice, being very wise, tells the King that he can speak what is on his mind. “Have you your wits? Know you what ‘tis you speak?” The Justice wants to test what the King is going to say. But when Falstaff, on fire with anticipation, brushes the old judge aside, the King is compelled to speak the unpleasant words himself. King Henry is now a new man who has buried his “wildness” in his father’s grave. He speaks as the representative and embodiment of “The majesty and power of law and justice.” An Elizabethan audience would have surely felt that the speech is very appropriate.

Falstaff’s last speech shows his repentance and self-control. Falstaff talks to Shallow in a very business-like, regretful, humiliated, frank, stoical, broken-hearted, yet humorous manner, hiding his shock and astonishment at the unexpected turn of events. Again he tries to take command of the situation and shows resilience. Further, he tries to plead for mercy to the Chief Justice “My lord my Lord” but the Chief Justice says firmly that he doesn’t want to hear him and gives orders to take him away. Falstaff is now convinced that his wit will never save him again and that he is doomed.

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