Henry IV Part 2
Henry IV Part 2 Act 1, Scene 2 Summary
- Meanwhile, on the streets of London, Falstaff (a fat, rowdy, disgraced knight and Prince Hal's good pal) turns to his Page and asks what the doctor had to say about his recent urine sample. (This has got to be one of the most peculiar opening lines ever, don't you think?)
- The Page says the urine was fine but the doctor thinks Falstaff, the owner of the urine, probably has more diseases than he can diagnose.
- Falstaff's not amused by the saucy little Page. Falstaff turns to the Page and says that lots of men try to make fun of him but they're all chumps compared to him, Falstaff, the heavy weight champion of trash talk. He's so good, in fact, that his mad trash talking skills actually rub off on other men and make them funnier and wittier than they actually are. (We have to admit, this is completely true.)
- Then Falstaff proceeds, in a long speech, to hate on just about the entire world. He starts by bagging on the Page for being so tiny and for not even being fit to wait on him. Falstaff ought to send the Page back to Prince Hal, who has hired the servant as a gift to Falstaff. Speaking of Prince Hal, Falstaff's not too happy with that young pip-squeak either. Falstaff will probably grow a beard on his hand before the prince ever grows hair on his face, etc, etc.
- Falstaff has riled himself up by now and he turns his attention to ragging on that good for nothing tailor, Master Dumbleton, who has recently demanded a guarantee of payment before he'll make Falstaff's new outfit, a snazzy set of satin pants and a cloak that are befitting a knight.
- Falstaff compares the tailor to the biblical glutton who refused to help the beggar Lazarus, calls him a "whoreson" (a whore's son) and then proceeds to rag on all men who wear their hair short and dress in fashionable clothes. Who does this guy think he is, demanding a guarantee of payment from Falstaff? Falstaff's a knight and he wants his satin pants, ASAP. Plus, the tailor's wife is cheating on him and everybody knows it but him. And so on.
- Falstaff, who must be out of breath by now, asks the Page where his pal Bardolph is. The Page reports that Bardolph has gone to Smithfield to buy Falstaff a horse.
- Falstaff says if only he could buy himself a wife from a brothel, then he'd have a horse, a servant, and a wife. (In other words, he'd be all set.)
- Falstaff's Page spots the Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) and warns Falstaff, who turns his back and tries to make himself invisible.
- When the LCJ commands his servant to fetch Falstaff for a little chat, Falstaff pretends to be deaf. That doesn't work so Falstaff pretends he thinks the Servant is a beggar and he complains that all street beggars should be drafted into the king's army to fight in the wars.
- The Servant gets all huffy at the insult and finally the LCJ steps in and says enough screwing around – he wants to talk to Falstaff, now.
- When Falstaff finally acknowledges the Lord Chief Justice, he sweetly pretends to be concerned about the LCJ's health and makes a big show of acting like he cares about the man's general well-being.
- The Lord Chief Justice isn't having any of Falstaff's shenanigans. He says that he sent for Falstaff a long time ago but Falstaff never showed up. (Back in Henry IV Part 1 Falstaff robbed the king's exchequer but never had to answer to the LCJ for his crime because he went off to war.)
- Falstaff tries to change the subject and asks the LCJ how the king is doing these days.
- Don't even try to change the subject, says the LCJ.
- Then Falstaff says he's heard that Prince Hal is paralyzed and begins to ramble about how he read all about this crazy disease in Galen's medical book. (Galen's an ancient Greek physician who wrote a bunch of anatomy and medical texts, which were pretty popular well into the 16th century.)
- The LCJ says Falstaff must be deaf because he's not listening to him.
- Falstaff agrees that he has the disease of not listening and then goes on to compare himself to Job, the biblical figure known for patiently bearing excessive burdens in life.
- The LCJ says Falstaff belongs in the stocks and reminds Falstaff that he sent for him but Falstaff never reported to his office.
- Falstaff says he was busy being a war hero, having recently and valiantly served his country at the battle at Shrewsbury.
- Then the LCJ chides Falstaff for being in debt, for having corrupted Prince Hal, and for the robbery at Gad's Hill. Falstaff's lucky he served at the battle at Shrewsbury, says the Lord Chief Justice. Otherwise, he'd be in big, big trouble with the law.
- Falstaff makes a few smart aleck comments and the LCJ says Falstaff follows Prince Hal around like an evil angel.
- Then Falstaff accuses the LCJ of being too old to understand youthful men such as himself.
- The Lord Chief Justice responds with a long list of reasons why Falstaff is not young – he's got gray hair, a huge belly, sallow looking skin, a double chin, and so forth.
- Falstaff insults the LCJ back by reminding him of the time Prince Hal gave him a box on the ears. (In other words, the LCJ is a chump.)
- Hmph. The LCJ says he wishes God would send the prince a better companion.
- Falstaff wittily retorts that he wishes God would send him, Falstaff, a better companion because he just can't seem to get rid of Hal, who's kind of a pest.
- Oh yeah, says the LCJ. He heard that the king has separated Falstaff from Hal and that Falstaff is going with Prince John to fight the Archbishop of York's rebel army. That's right, replies Falstaff. You guys who stay at home should say a prayer for us soldiers. Falstaff goes on to waffle that he wishes the enemy soldiers weren't so afraid of him.
- Falstaff, who is totally out of control and belligerent, then asks to borrow some money and the LCJ refuses.
- After the LCJ departs, Falstaff laments that he's completely broke and compares his debt to being sick with gout (which he says is an old man's disease) and syphilis (which he says is a young man's venereal disease). In short, Falstaff is having a hard time curing all of his afflictions.
- Then Falstaff sends his Page to deliver letters to Prince Hal, Westmoreland, Prince John, and his Mistress (whom Falstaff has been promising to marry).
- The Page leaves and Falstaff complains about the serious pain in his big toe. He's not sure if it hurts because of his gout or his syphilis. Either way, he's planning to blame his pain on a battle injury so he can collect a wounded soldier's pension.
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