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Henry 4, Part 2 Characters

Sir John Falstaff is an excessively fat, excessively drunken, excessively cowardly, excessively witty, and excessively incorrigible rogue. 

Utterly shameless, he can talk his way out of almost any situation and rationalize any action, though he does not pull the wool over most courtiers’ eyes. Commoners are much more easily impressed by him. He is convinced that he still has Prince Harry’s love and that when the latter comes to the throne he will be the most influential man in the kingdom. Being rather poor, Falstaff tends to borrow inordinate amounts of money from people; he charms Hostess Quickly so much that even after she attempts to have him arrested for debt he can milk yet more money from her. He has often proposed marriage to her, keeping her in hope even as she arranges for him to enjoy Doll Tearsheet’s favors. He is very fond of Doll, the only person in whose presence he admits to feeling his age. He is not only fat and white-bearded: too much eating has given him gout, and too much time with whores has struck him with venereal disease, and he can no longer even tell which pains are caused by which disease. He has something of a feud with the Lord Chief Justice, who despises him and his influence on the Prince. He is easily bribed into letting draftees avoid the army, and can justify doing so. Calling on his old acquaintance Justice Shallow while mustering soldiers, he is able to cajole him into lending him a thousand pounds, for the sake of which he puts up with the old man’s nattering. Hearing of Prince Harry’s accession to the throne, he is so excited that he gallops full-tilt to London, willing to steal horses to do so, where he interrupts the new King’s coronation procession in the most shocking fashion. Rejected by the King, he attempts to convince his companions and himself that this is merely Harry putting on a show for the sake of respectability, but on being arrested by the Lord Chief Justice his argument falters. What happens to him afterwards is told in Henry V.


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