47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry IV, Part 1 - A Struggle for a Kingdom
The lengthy title for the 1598 printing was "The History of Henrie the Fourth, With the Battell at Shrewsburie, between the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North, with the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstaffe".
Surprisingly, Hal, Prince of Wales, (later Henry V) was not even mentioned in this verbose title although many would...
Published on October 16, 2000 by Michael Wischmeyer
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unacceptable, Amazon.
This is a review of the so-called *Kindle edition* of Henry IV.2. I was directed to this edition by clicking on the Kindle link on the Folger paperback edition but this is certainly *not* a Kindle version of the Folger edition. Amazon - when I click for the Kindle edition, I want a Kindle edition of *that book*, not a *similar* book with the same title. I want (and will...
Published on February 3, 2011 by Tony Pisculli
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honor is for losers,
This review is from: Henry IV, Part 1 (Pelican Shakespeare) (Paperback)
Shakespeare hated war but he loved victory. There's no question that Shakespeare fully appreciates military valor. The last play in the four part cycle, Henry V, testifies to this, not least with the famous "Once more into the breach" and "Band of brothers" speeches.
But Shakespeare's greatest literary creation is perhaps the lovable rogue Falstaff. Falstaff is a Shakespearean fool, an anti-hero, a lovable villain. He voices opinions that no one would dare tell others. He can do this because he is a fool and isn't taken seriously by the king and princes above him. But audiences listen approvingly to his wisdom, and Falstaff thinks honor is for losers.
"Thou owest God a death" says his friend Prince Hal as he leaves.
"'Tis not due yet" says Falstaff left alone with the audience. "I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honor? A word. What is that word honor? Air - a trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died on Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No."
King Henry IV faces a revolution led by Henry Percy known as Hotspur. There's no question that Hotspur is noble, valorous, courageous and of course honorable. Henry IV wishes that this Henry in fact were is own son, rather then the rakish prince also called Henry. This Henry Hotspur is full of fire and verve. Yet as honorable as he is, he fights on the wrong side and dies. There lies honor, vindicating Falstaff.
Certainly Hotspur fights for a cause: he believes Henry IV to have usurped the crown, but he values martial honor above all, even above the deep love he feels for his wife. If a war serves a greater purpose, then the men who fight deserve our esteem, gratitude and respect. Honor is honorable. But if a man fights only for honor as an end in itself, he is a fool and in a just ordered world, he will lose.
Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you thought you were witty,
This review is from: Henry IV, Part I (Folger Shakespeare Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
Not much to say honestly, because I haven't got a thing on Shakespeare except to say I love his work, his characters, his wit, his charm, the comedy, the tragedy, and...well you probably get my point.
Henry IV Part I is personally my favorite of his plays and I take the typical stance of being a Falstaff sympathizer (expedited by Roger Allam's portrayal at Shakespeare's Globe and Orson Welles' in Chimes at Midnight), but enjoy all the characters and their interactions.
Folger Shakespeare Library has been an excellent resource for me, as I came to these plays with absolutely no knowledge of Shakespeare whatsoever. There are word translations on one side of the page and text summaries for each act, and the occasional illustration. Can't ask for more for $6, 5 stars.
4.0 out of 5 stars Crown To The Left Of Me, Joker To The Right,
In the previous installment of Shakespeare's "Henriad", "Henry IV Part 1", we waited to see if Prince Hal would shake the corrupting influence of Falstaff and prove worthy of the throne. In "Part 2" we get to chew our spinach twice. Hal still stands at the same crossroads, Falstaff still tugging at his ankles.
For me, that's the weakest element of "Henry IV Part 2", the warmed-over central plot. What makes "Part 2" terrific anyway is just about everything else. Structurally, "Part 2" is shambolic compared to "Part 1," almost two stories entirely with Hal and Falstaff brought together only once, briefly, before the end. But individual scenes of the play shine with first-class Shakespearean luster, and "Part 2"'s thematic quality is singularly complicated in a way that confuses initially but rewards a second reading.
Hal is still the prince, and still in poor odor with his father despite his heroics in "Part 1." He must find his own way to glory while a civil war rages. Meanwhile, Falstaff schemes to take advantage of both the war and his friends for the sake of filling his gut.
In the idiosyncratic way of this play, we begin with neither player onstage, but rather "Rumor, painted full of tongues", who sets up an opening scene featuring the rebel Earl of Northumberland, who as it turns out will play no major role in the proceedings and will leave in Act 2. It's like Shakespeare is playing with our expectations. Then he does the same to the characters. Time and again, we will see them tripped up by "smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs."
Only Hal seems immune with his simple maxim: "Let the end try the man."
While Shakespeare worked hard to keep Hal at the center of things in "Part 1," the character doesn't seem as well-integrated into the story here. The rebellion is dealt with this time without Hal taking an active part, or even being on stage. Falstaff carries the narrative bulk of the play almost entirely on his wide shoulders, his mischief providing amusing counterpoint to the cold-blooded realpolitik around him.
Falstaff is helped this time by a supporting cast all his own, including slatternly Doll Tearsheet and Mistress Quickly, the latter of whom introduces the phrase: "Do me, do me, do me" to the lexicon of Shakespearean quotation. The humor is more ribald here than it was in "Part 1", and more morbid, too. The first Falstaff joke is that he had his urine tested and the urine is found to be in better shape than its owner.
These episodes, and another where King Henry IV soliloquizes about his lack of sleep ("Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown"), are wonderful enough when read in isolation, enough to not mind that these story pieces never quite come together. The play's two masterstrokes both involve sharp reverses from what we have been led to expect, and though I feel the first is set up much better, they both leave an imprint on you while reading and line up with the message of "smooth comforts false" we were given at the start.
A bridge between two better plays, "Henry IV Part 2" has its own special qualities and is very much worth reading - so long as you don't read it out of order.
5.0 out of 5 stars Dueling Duality,
This review is from: Henry IV, Part One (Bantam Classic) (Mass Market Paperback)
"Henry IV Pt. 1" was one of Shakespeare's greatest successes in his lifetime, and has remained pre-eminently popular to this day. But each century has had its own version of what it is about.
For Elizabethans, it was Falstaff and his merry pranks. For the 18th century, it was Hotspur and his proud nobility. More recently, the pendulum swung back to Falstaff, but this time as a tragic exponent of relativistic realism, a clown who understands his place as cosmic punchline.
But as David Bevington points out in his introduction to my Bantam edition, the real central figure is the guy who encapsulates the best of both Falstaff and Hotspur, young Prince Hal. In "Henry IV Pt. 1", he is the dissolute heir to the throne, living the fast life of drink and crime (petty and otherwise) with the dubious aid of his pal Falstaff, a fat coward who lives only to fill his purse and gut. Can Hal break out of his seeming tailspin and aid his father, the title character Henry IV, before the king loses his throne in a civil war?
Bevington's point is Hal represents the true center of this play, the character for whom Hotspur and Falstaff represent opposite ends of an ideal monarch. Not for Hal the opportunistic legacy of his grasping father, "this ingrate and cankered Bolingbroke" as Hotspur calls him, not without cause, early in the play. Hal must be his own self-made man, pulled from disparate parts, and "Henry IV Pt. 1" shows him at the start of his rather Machiavellian journey.
"So when this loose behavior I throw off/And pay the debt I never promised/...By so much shall I falsify men's hopes," he declares, less as a cunning rogue a la Shakespeare's Richard III and more as a cagey modern-day spin-doctor aware of how unsteadily his father's kingdom rests.
Philosophy aside, "Henry IV Pt. 1" is a worthwhile reading experience because it is packed with so much fun. You have low comedy, battles, court intrigue, and fast-flowing dialogue with sharp twists and turns. "I can call spirits from the vasty deep!" brags the mystical Welsh rebel Glendower, to which Hotspur replies: "Why, so can I, or so can any man. But will they come when you do call for them?"
Others seem more inclined these days to gravitate to Falstaff. I enjoy Falstaff's comedy, and his undeniable relativism sets him up as an Elizabethan figure more grounded in the 21st century than the 16th ("Henry IV Pt. 1" is set in the early 1400s, but was first produced around 1597), but as a personality he's about as callous as they come, at one point collecting a bunch of wretches to die in war so he can collect money from others who would have gone in their stead. Hal actually seems more attracted to Hotspur, the figure I find more compelling. Hotspur's an idealist, but entirely too mule-headed for serious statescraft. He's undone not so much by his enemies but his allies, including his shifting uncle and irresolute father.
Hal here combines Hotspur's sense of a higher mission with Falstaff's pragmatic commonness to launch himself as a political man. "I'll so offend to make offense a skill/Redeeming time when men least think I will", he says early on. It's ironic how much more at ease Prince Hal would be in our era, running for office, than in his own, where the crown, if not attendant legitimacy, could be inherited. This is one of many things that makes "Henry IV Pt. 1" such a timeless pleasure.
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard II's Consolation Prize and Falstaff,
This review is from: Henry IV, Part Two (Bantam Classic) (Paperback)
In "Richard II," Bolingbroke usurped Richard II's crown and became King Henry IV. In 1 "Henry IV," King Henry IV stopped the rebellion by Hotspur, Worcestor, and Vernon. But his enemy Northumberland remained a threat. This brings us to the 2 "Henry IV."
Despite the title, the real star of this play is Falstaff. One minor complaint I have is that while Falstaff could probably handle the play, some of his scenes do get too drawn out. Moving on, Northumberland reappears, and he is of course sad over the death of his son Hotspur. (Slain by Prince Henry in 1 "Henry IV.") We also meet the Arch Bishop of York who becomes an enemy of Henry IV. The Arch Bishop delivers a striking passage that emphasizes that the past and the future always seem better than the present.
In Act 2, we quickly learn that Falstaff has built up some debts and he is neglecting his duties to the king. (Big surprise!) Prince Henry is a back stage player for the early part of the play, but rather than being close to Falstaff (as he was in Part 1), he bitterly rebukes Falstaff for his lifestyle. Also, Prince Henry does express concern over his father's failing health. But he is afraid he will be thought of as a hypocrite if he shows it.
Interestingly, a woman named Doll begins to find Falstaff attractive. King Henry IV does not enter until 3.1, and we can see that the rebellions have taken their toll on him. He can only talk of the tribulations of royalty. It is even possible that he feels he deserves these sorrow and afflictions for stealing the crown from Richard II. (Richard II's consolation prize.)
Later, Falstaff gathers his men together in a well drawn comical scene. Westmoreland and Henry IV's son Lancaster defeat the rebellion of the Arch Bishop of York, Mowbray, and Hastings in a less than honorable way. But this is not an invention of Shakespeare's. It did happen.
In 4.3, Coleville surrenders to our favorite rogue Falstaff. It is comical when Falstaff comments that Lancaster is so uptight because he doesn't drink. But the sad part of the play returns soon enough.
Henry IV's health fails, and he can not enjoy his victory. (This does constitute a small consolation prize for Richard II.) Some people dislike Henry V for banishing Falstaff, but Henry V had little choice. The actions of Falstaff (as comical and lovable as he is) are downright criminal. Though, Shakespeare promises us that he will return in another play. ("Merry Wives of Windsor")
5.0 out of 5 stars henry iv part 2,
By A Customer
This review is from: Henry IV, Part I (Dover Thrift Editions) (Pt. 1) (Paperback)
the story of prince hal and his 'buddy' falstaff, continues in the second part of 'henry iv'. the last of the rebels are subdued and peace finally comes to england. but the king is very ill, and his death opens the way for hal to ascend the throne. this he does with class, but in so doing he has to forswear his errant youthful ways, including his drinking buddy, falstaff. this play is really the story of hal's acent, and falstaff's parallel descent. the two paths meet at the end in a poignant scene. a worthy sequel to 'henry iv part 1'. the only drawback is the relative dearth of intrigue or battle-related scenes. shakespeare had juggled some of the historical events in part 1 and lumped two separate rebellions into one, putting both before the battle of shrewsberry, when they actually occurred separately before and after. what part 1 gained in heightened drama, part 2 lost in lessened interest. if it's a consolation, there's more falstaff in part 2!
a comment about the reviewer who wrote that prince hal acted dishonorably by abandoning his drinking buddies. hal had no choice but to abandon his old dissolute ways if he was to be a king people respected and followed. if abandoning his old ways meant abandoning his old buddies, then so be it. everyone has to grow up, and hal had too big a role to play and too great responsibilities and duties to continue fooling around. also, he didn't completely abandon falstaff. he specifically said that if and when the fat fool mended his ways he was welcomed to return to see the king who would willingly bestow whatever accolades he deserved.
falstaff, on the other hand, was a knave from beginning to end. he bad-mouthed the prince behind his back. he ransomed off the soldiers in his charge who were commissioned to fight for the king and prince for personal profit. he was a coward, and a braggard. yes, he was funny, but only because we laughed AT him, not with him.
king henry v did what he had to do. and, if you've seen this play enacted, you'll know that he did it with a heavy heart, not callously. look at his reaction to the news of bardolf's execution in 'henry v' for further confirmation. hal did what all good leaders do: he put the good of his country before his personal feelings. it takes great courage and honor to do this. henry v was a brave and honorable man (at least, the hal of shakespeare's plays).
and as for the charge that hal stole his father's crown, the play makes it clear that hal mistook his father for being already dead when he snathed the royal headdress. and he was duly shocked and contrite when he discovered his father was still alive. so, i don't see how this shows hal's 'dishonor'. also, historians doubt the event ever happened. this is the kind of anecdote that begins as rumor in henry's time, and is passed down through generations so it becomes the stuff of legend. but there's no historical evidence that hal ever did such a thing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Humbling,
Compared to Part I, Part II maintains a better balance between the court and Eastcheap. Royalty is allowed moments of glory: Henry IV in his berating of Hal and Hal in his response and in his speech banishing Falstaff. Hal is given to some complex emotions when he picks up the crown lying next to his dying father. Northumberland surprises with a sudden spark, punning "Hotspur, Coldspur?" at the news that his son may be dead.
Falstaff continues to be a magician creating reality from words. (This may be the main reason he is so fun to be around). Enigmatically, this corrupt liar, coward and a thief through and through manages to remain appealing. By contrast, our opinion of John of Lancaster is immediately sunk with the singular unseemly scene in which he cons the rebels.
Of course, Falstaff is not as much a black magician as Richard III, who in a course of one speech, convinced Lady Ann, whose husband he killed, to be romantically interested in him. Falstaff's magic is not as sinister, but in it he is similarly effective, as when in a course of a short conversation, he convinces the Hostess, who is asking him to repay what he owes her, to lend him more.
His prose does not make him as elegantly spoken as some better versed Shakespearean characters, but it is nicely of a piece with his remarkable internal freedom.
Falstaff is fascinating: deeply flawed, he is appealing well beyond his deserves. Maybe by admiring Falstaff, we learn to be a bit more forgiving of human imperfections in us and others...
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Folger Library - the best,
This is about Folger Shakespeare Library. I read Hamlet, Tempest and Henry IV Part I and Part II in their editions, as well as Antony and Cleopatra, and Merchant of Venice.
Folger Library editions provide almost line by line commentary, as well as longer commentaries to certain more obscure places in the text; also there are articles about Shakespeare's language and historical context for each play.
I read "The Merchant of Venice" in "The Annotated Shakespeare" edition as well, so I can compare: Folger Library editions provide much more commentaries and other material, including even some pictures from medieval and Renaissance books which are relevant to the text of a particular play.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History as Art,
This review is from: Henry IV, Part 1 (Pelican Shakespeare) (Paperback)
The young Hal and his instructor in the art of living the good life , Falstaff cavort through the first half of Henry IV as if life were going to be one long , irresponsible entertainment. The dramatic transformation of all of this , and Hal's casting off of Falstaff, and moving to kingly responsibility will come in the Henry IV Part II.
What is present here throughout is the tremendous richness of Shakespeare's imagination in his creation of character, and inventiveness in language , in his ability to create so many different moods and feelings.
'Falstaff' is one of Shakespeare's most beloved characters, and one of the great figures in the Comedy of world literature.
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare "King henry IV Part 1 with notes.",
This review is from: The First Part of King Henry the Fourth: Texts and Contexts (The Bedford Shakespeare Series) (Paperback)
Wordcraft: New English to Old English Dictionary and Thesaurus
If you only know Shakespeare by the fact that he existed and was a play writer and you decide that you want to read one of his history plays and the history play that you pick happens to be King Henry IV part one then just reading the text alone will be extremely confusing. Barbara Hodgdon has done an amazing job editing this play and her notes are extremely helpful besides her explication of this play there are historical graphics and historical maps that will help you when reading or seeing the works of Shakespeare. This book is more than a college textbook, it is enjoyable historical reading. Craig Barr.
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Henry IV Part 1 by David Bevington (Mass Market Paperback - March 1, 1994)
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