Saturday, 27 December 2014

Henry IV Part II: The Boy Grew Up

It took me so log to write a review on Henry IV, part II, partly because I was lazy, partly because I was busy, and partly because it is the one I like the least in Shakespeare's first tetralogy. But the strongest reason why I haven't reviewed it for a long time is because I really don't know what to say about it.

Prince Hal, whom we left in Henry IV part I as a favourable son in the eyes of his father, came back to his former life of jests and fun and revelries. Falstaff, on the other hand, remained the same - old fat drunkard enjoying every bit of his life with jokes and petty crimes. However, something changed. Hal didn't have the same closeness he had once with Falstaff. In fact, they were rarely together. Another thing, he became somewhat more aware of his reputation as a prince - or let's say, more aware of what expected from his as a prince.

There was also an interesting character - Chief Justice. He was an embodiment of rigid law, and he was unafraid to confront both Falstaff and Prince Hal. He disliked Falstaff and attributed Hal's bad conduct to his influence (which is right to some degree).

It happened that one day Falstaff was busy having fun with a prostitute named Doll Tearsheet. Unbeknownst to him, Hal and Pointz was there within, listening when he began to speak abusively about them. When confronted, Falstaff again tried to make excuses, but Hal wasn't convinced.

Meanwhile, the king was sick, and now nearing his death, became more and more worried by his son's questionable conducts. When another rebellion arose, the King ordered his other son Prince John, to handle it. He succeeded with an unfair political stratagem, showing that (at least for me), he was no king material either.

Hal came before the king, only to find that he was terribly sick in his bed. Believing that his father was already dead, Hal too his crown and put it on his head. The king woke up, and scolded his son severely. Yet when Hal explained his reason for taking the crown, the king relaxed. He gave his son some advice, and finally, his blessing, shortly before he died in peace.

Falstaff, hearing that the king was dead, rushed to London. He believed that his friendship with Hal would earn him a safe haven in the new king's court. However, Hal, now King Henry V, rejected him and all his former friends. He gave Falstaff a small allowance, but threatened him with death punishment if he dared to come near him. Hal was determined to be a worthy king and to throw away his "former self".


Compared to the first part, Part 2 is rather dull, flat, and boring. I doesn't have enough Hal and Falstaff together. But in a way, it is necessary. Part two is the time when Hal starts to find himself. Maybe he distances himself from Falstaff, to be able to at last rejects him entirely.

I love the Chief Justice for his integrity and loyalty to what he knew was right. He didn't refrain from punishing Hal just because he was a prince. Later, when he became king, he didn't lose even one bit of that legal integrity.
I am assured, if I be measured rightly,
Your majesty hath no just cause to hate me.
Indeed he didn't. He challenged the new king to envision himself having a son like himself and imagining a person like the Chief Justice, bold enough to give the son a proper discipline. Hal was reasonable enough to see this, and ordered the man to keep his status and his responsibility.

I believe another person to talk about is Henry IV. Oh, he just loved his country. After reigning for a long time he didn't lose even one small part of that love he had for England when he decided to take the throne.

The sad thing about him is, he was still haunted by his past deeds.
God knows, my son,
By what by-paths and indirect crook'd ways
I met this crown; and I myself know well
How troublesome it sat upon my head.
But he assured Henry that the crown would sit surer on his head.

Well, what now, England?
Yet weep that Harry's dead; and so will I;
But Harry lives, that shall convert those tears
By number into hours of happiness.
Shall he? See you in Henry V.

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