Henry IV Part 1 offers an interesting meditation on gender. For the most part, the play is concerned with masculinity and honor and relations between men – fathers and sons, uncles and nephews, brothers, cousins, male colleagues, and so on. Given that the play's main story line is one of primogeniture (how the prince will inherit the crown from his father), this is unsurprising. The play's three female characters are marginally significant but the play goes out of its way to dramatize and examine relations between husbands and wives. In Henry IV Part 1 women are always linked with rebellion and are frequently viewed as threats to masculinity.
In the play, marriage is portrayed as an institution that can make men soft and weak, limiting their ability to fight in battle.
For Hotspur, masculinity is intricately linked to courage and honor, which can only be gained on the field of battle – a space that primarily excludes women.