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Henry IV Part 1 Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #1

Yet herein will I imitate the sun, (1.2.204)

When Hal confides in the audience that his wild and rebellious behavior is just an act, we're reminded that Prince Hal approaches life as a series of roles to be played. As long as he's in Eastcheap with his rowdy, low-life friends, he'll play the "part" of the errant son. But, when he decides the time is right, he'll throw off his disguise and act more like a prince. (Note: We say a whole lot more about this speech in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory," so be sure to check it out.)

Quote #2

[…] I am not yet of Percy's
mind, the Hotspur of the north, he that kills me
some six or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast,
washes his hands, and says to his wife 'Fie upon
this quiet life! I want work.' 'O my sweet Harry,'
says she, 'how many hast thou killed today?'
'Give my roan horse a drench,' says he; and answers
'Some fourteen,' an hour after. 'A trifle, a
trifle.' I prithee, call in Falstaff. I'll play Percy,
and that damned brawn shall play Dame Mortimer
his wife.(2.4.104-114)

Prince Hal seems to have a knack for impersonation, don't you think? Here, he pretty much nails Hotspur's hyper-masculine and somewhat comedic persona. As humorous as this is, getting "into character" is more than just fun and games for the prince. Elsewhere in the play, Hal admits that, eventually, he must emulate Hotspur's courage on the battlefield if he's to redeem his lost "honour" and lead the kingdom. For now, while the prince hangs with his low-life Eastcheap pals, he is not "not yet of Percy's mind."

Quote #3

Well, thou wilt be horribly chid tomorrow
when thou comest to thy father. If thou love me,
practice an answer.
Do thou stand for my father, and examine me
upon the particulars of my life. (2.4.384-388)

When Falstaff proposes that he and Hal perform the infamous skit at the Boar's Head Tavern (where Falstaff plays "King Henry" and Hal plays himself), we see how the impromptu play begins as an exercise (albeit very entertaining one) for Prince Hal to practice handling his angry father the next day at court. This notion that the tavern is a kind of training ground or dress rehearsal space for Prince Hal extends throughout the play. Hal not only practices being a "prince" during his performance here, he also practices playing the role of "king," which will one day be a permanent gig for Hal. It's not long into Hal and Falstaff's little play until the prince insists that he could play the part of "King Henry" better than Falstaff. Keep reading.

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