Henry IV Part 1
How we cite our quotes:
These letters come from your father.
Letters from him! why comes he not himself?
He cannot come, my lord; he is grievous sick. (4.1.1)
When Hotspur learns his father, Northumberland, will not join him in battle, we're reminded that parents can't always be depended on to protect their children. Not only does Hotspur's father abandon him in his time of need, his uncle later deceives him by withholding news of the King's second offer for reconciliation. Both actions, as we know, cost Hotspur his life.
Note: In Henry IV Part 2, Hotspur's widow, Kate, chides her father-in-law for deserting his son:
The time was, father, that you broke your word,
When you were more endeared to it than now;
When your own Percy, when my heart's dear Harry,
Threw many a northward look to see his father
Bring up his powers; but he did long in vain.
Who then persuaded you to stay at home?
There were two honours lost, yours and your son's. (2H4, 2.3.1)
EARL OF WORCESTER
Your father's sickness is a maim to us.
A perilous gash, a very limb lopp'd off:
And yet, in faith, it is not; his present want
Seems more than we shall find it: (4.1.3)
There's that horticultural metaphor again. This time, Hotspur suggests his father's absence at the battle at Shrewsbury is like a "limb lopp'd off." This reference to a "maim" or a "gash" in the Percy family tree anticipates the way Hotspur will lose his life in battle at Shrewsbury, in part because of his father's abandonment and his uncle's deception.
By God, thou hast deceived me, Lancaster;
I did not think thee lord of such a spirit:
Before, I loved thee as a brother, John;
But now, I do respect thee as my soul.
KING HENRY IV
I saw him hold Lord Percy at the point
With lustier maintenance than I did look for
Of such an ungrown warrior.
O, this boy
Lends mettle to us all! (5.4.3)
Hal's little brother, Prince John, plays a minor role in the play, but we think this passage is pretty significant. When Hal embraces his brother, it's pretty clear that he realizes the importance of blood relations and family loyalty. This is a sure sign that Hal will turn away from his base companions and behave in way that's expected of him, which, will, in turn, save the kingdom.