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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

King Henry IV, Part 1

Setting: 1402-1403 AD

England and Wales


My really abridged plot summary: King Henry wants to lead a crusade. The Welsh rebel Owen Glendower has defeated Henry's troops in the South and Hotspur, claiming to be loyal to Henry, refuses to send the soldiers he captured in the North to Henry. Prince Harry is off partying with criminals, much to the dismay of his father. Falstaff (an icon) has taken on the role of his bad-influence father figure. There is a prank robbery plot carried out against Falstaff. Hotspur's family, the Percys, are planning to overthrow the King. Harry & Co. are drinking in a tavern when a message arrives for Harry that his father has sent for him because of a Civil War. The Percys have assembled armies from Scotland, Wales, and some English Noblemen, but there's trouble in paradise and the alliance starts to crumble. Henry tells Harry that Hotspur (so many H names) may be more fit to rule than Harry, this lights a fire under his butt and he vows to be better. He enlists his tavern bros to fight with him against the rebels. At the Battle of Shrewsbury Harry saves his father's life and thus regains his trust and approval. Harry also kills Hotspur and the rest of the Percys are executed. Falstaff managed to survive the battle without having to actually fight anyone (have I mentioned he's an icon?). But the war isn't over yet! Henry sends his children to the far reaches of his kingdom to defeat the rebels and there will be many battles to come... to be continued....

My favorite quote:

By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,

To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,

Or dive into the bottom of the deep,

Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,

And pluck up drowned honour by the locks.

~Hotspur, I.iii


  • Overall Impression: 7- This play is very funny, very entertaining from a banter standpoint- but it feels like no real action actually happens literally until act 5.

  • Use of Language: 7- Falstaff is pretty hilarious. This play is full of wit and wordplay- makes me want to recommend this play to those who love the Comedies.

  • Protagonist Arc: 6- Honestly it's hard to say who the protagonist of this one is, it's kind of all over the place. I think this answer depends on how you define protagonist. I will say- I don't think it's King Henry... do with that what you will.

  • Female Characters: 6- Ok Mistress Quickly is in this one- she's an icon, we love her. Lady Mortimer doesn't do a whole lot but she's pretty cool. Lady Percy is a girl boss and we love her. She's a woman who knows what she wants.

  • Fits Genre: 6- Again, this play is really funny, but I just don't think it fits in super well with the rest of the Histories. It feels so much like a Comedy, but it is quite literally a history play, which makes me want to say that this is arguably the Problem Play of the Histories.

  • Overall Enjoyment: 7- This play is funny as all get out, stereotypical Shakespearean comedy and vulgar references.

  • Hype Worthy: 7- We love a good Falstaff moment! Also Hotspur and Prince Harry are EXCELLENT roles with some great speeches if you're in the market for a good monologue!

  • Emotional Impact: 5- eh. The only stakes I really had in this was when Falstaff is (not)dead but Harry thinks he is. I was like this guy better be in part 2 (spoiler alert, he is)!

Total: 51/80

Average: 6

*3 out of 5 stars*

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