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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Henry 4, Part 2 Characters

King Henry IV is the same as the Bullingbrook of Richard II and the King of Henry IV, Part One

Much older and wearier now, he suffers dreadfully from insomnia and lingering guilt over his usurpation of the throne. Rebellions against him continually keep him from going on crusade to Jerusalem as he hopes to do in expiation of his guilt. He is subject to fits where his vision blurs before he falls unconscious, and slips into coma-like sleeps where it is impossible to tell if he is still alive. If continual treasons against him and physical illness were not enough, his cares are increased by the fact that his eldest son and heir, Prince Harry, is a wastrel who spends most of his time in bars and has even been thrown in jail for being publicly disorderly. The King is too ill to lead his armies against the new rebellion himself, and has to entrust his forces to his second son, John of Lancaster rather than to his heir. Henry has lost all hope for Prince Harry, and is driven to the point of begging his three other sons to restrain their brother once the latter takes the throne. The combination of paternal disappointment and worry for his kingdom drives him to a passionate outburst even on his deathbed. He is reconciled with Harry just prior to his death. Known as a crafty politician, Henry is still enough of one as he lies dying that he can recommend that Harry avoid rebellions against himself by spending all of the nobles’ energies in fighting wars elsewhere. Haunted by a prophecy that he should die in Jerusalem, he fulfills it by insisting on being carried to a chamber of that name within his palace. Henry is as much as he can be a just king, glad to have servants who respect the law, and approving of the Lord Chief Justice for not treating Prince Harry any differently from other troublemakers.

 

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