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henry iv part 2,
By A Customer
This review is from: Henry IV, Part I (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.