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Henry IV Part II

Overview   Complete Text   Synopsis    Characters/Settings    Themes   Famous Quotes    Essay Questions/Topics

Overview


A continuation of the historical play, Henry IV Part I,

Henry IV Part II focuses on the waning days of

England’s King Henry IV and the ascension of his son,

Prince Hal, to the throne as Henry V. While some of

the historical events portrayed are real, the character

of Sir John Falstaff and his companions are fictional

elements contrived by Shakespeare for dramatic effect.


The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (also known as Holinshed’s Chronicles) by Raphael Holinshed served as the basis for Henry IV, along with The Union of Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and York (Edward Hall), The Civil Wars (Samuel Daniel), and The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth.


Falstaff’s character may have been loosely based on Pyrogopolynices, a weak-kneed soldier portrayed in the ancient Roman drama, Miles Gloriosus.


Henry IV Part II picks up after King Henry IV’s army defeats the rebels at Shrewsbury near the Welsh-English border in 1403. Prince Hal, Henry’s son, and heir to the throne has abandoned his youthful ways and distinguished himself on the field of battle by slaying Hotspur, the rebel’s inspiration and battlefield leader. The play completes Hal’s transition from youthful rake to the earnest royal, worthy of the crown he inherits.




Henry IV Part II

History

Written 1597

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