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• The Plays
Henry IV, Part 2

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Henry IV, Part 2

He hath eaten me out of house and home.
Act 2, scene 1, line 76

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Act 3, scene 1, line 31

Henry IV, Part 2 is the only Shakespeare play that is a "sequel," in the modern sense, to an earlier play of his. Like most sequels, it repeats many elements from the previous work, Henry IV, Part 1. This play again puts on stage Henry IV's son, Prince Hal, who continues to conceal his potential greatness by consorting with tavern dwellers, including the witty Sir John Falstaff.

As in Part 1, Prince Hal and Falstaff seek to best each other in conversation, while Falstaff tries to ingratiate himself with Hal and Hal disdains him. Part 2 adds some fresh characters, the rural justices Shallow and Silence and Shallow’s household. Political rebellion, while important to the plot, does not loom as large as in Part 1. There are no glorious champions; combat is replaced by deception, cunning, and treachery.

Shakespeare probably wrote Henry IV, Part 2, in 1597 or 1598, not long after he wrote Part 1. It was published in 1600 as a quarto. Among the sources are Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles, an early play, The Famous Victories of Henry V, and other historical works.

Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 1999 Folger Shakespeare Library


Further reading
Simon Callow. Henry IV, Part 2. Actors on Shakespeare series. London: Faber and Faber, 2003.

Graham Holderness. Shakespeare: The Histories. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Jean E. Howard and Phyllis Rackin. Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories. London; New York: Routledge, 1997.

Roderick Marshall. Falstaff: The Archetypal Myth. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books, 1989.

John Julius Norwich. Shakespeare’s Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages, 1337-1485. New York: Scribner, 1999.

Peter Saccio. Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama. 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

The Hollow Crown: Henry IV, Part 2 (2012, Neal Street Productions, NBC Universal Television, WNET Thirteen, and BBC). Directed by Richard Eyre. Cast includes Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, and David Bamber.

Related movies
My Own Private Idaho (1991, New Line Cinema). Directed by Gus Van Sant. Cast includes River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.

Chimes at Midnight (1965, Alpine Films and Internacional Films). Directed by Orson Welles. Cast includes Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, John Gielguid, and Ralph Richardson
Robert Smirke. Falstaff rebuked. Oil on canvas, ca. 1795.

Shakespeare. King Henry IV. Part 2. London, 1600


Shakespeare in American Life: Hackett's Falstaff

Inside the Collection

Henry IV, Part 2: Folios and Quartos from the Collection

Teacher Resources

Lesson Plan: Famous Death Lines

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