Henry IV Part 2
Power Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
KING HENRY V
You are right, justice, and you weigh this well;
Therefore still bear the balance and the sword:
And I do wish your honours may increase,
Till you do live to see a son of mine
Offend you and obey you, as I did.
So shall I live to speak my father's words:
'Happy am I, that have a man so bold,
That dares do justice on my proper son;
And not less happy, having such a son,
That would deliver up his greatness so
Into the hands of justice.' You did commit me:
For which, I do commit into your hand
The unstained sword that you have used to bear;
With this remembrance, that you use the same
With the like bold, just and impartial spirit
As you have done 'gainst me. There is my hand.
You shall be as a father to my youth:
My voice shall sound as you do prompt mine ear,
And I will stoop and humble my intents
To your well-practised wise directions.
And, princes all, believe me, I beseech you;
My father is gone wild into his grave,
For in his tomb lie my affections;
And with his spirit sadly I survive,
To mock the expectation of the world,
To frustrate prophecies and to raze out
Rotten opinion, who hath writ me down
After my seeming. […] (5.2.4)
This is a major tuning point for Hal (a.k.a. Henry V), who embraces the Lord Chief Justice as a trusted advisor and a "father" figure. Hal insists that he has buried his "affections" (the "wild" behavior of his youth) along with his dead father. And, although Hal's father is dead and in his "grave," Hal says that Henry IV's "spirit" survives in him. Hal, then, is doing what he promised to do back in Henry IV Part 1. By adopting his father's "spirit" or persona, he's completing his staged "reformation" from errant prince to noble king. This seeming reformation will "mock the expectation[s] of the world," meaning, Hal is going to surprise everybody who expects him to be a degenerate monarch. (This, by the way, is a terrific passage for anyone who wants to think about the relationship between kingship and the theme of "Family," especially since the Lord Chief Justice has now replaced Falstaff as a surrogate father to Hal. See also 5.5.2 below.)
God save thee, my sweet boy!
KING HENRY IV
My lord chief-justice, speak to that vain man.
Lord Chief-Justice Have you your wits? know you what 'tis to speak?
My king! my Jove! I speak to thee, my heart!
KING HENRY IV
I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers;
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
Reply not to me with a fool-born jest:
Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn'd away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company.
When thou dost hear I am as I have been,
Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast,
The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
Till then, I banish thee, on pain of death,
As I have done the rest of my misleaders,
Not to come near our person by ten mile.
For competence of life I will allow you,
That lack of means enforce you not to evil:
And, as we hear you do reform yourselves,
We will, according to your strengths and qualities,
Give you advancement. Be it your charge, my lord,
To see perform'd the tenor of our word. Set on. (5.5.2)
In the previous passage, we saw Hal promise to embrace the Lord Chief Justice as a "father" figure and to abandon his former wild ways. As evidence of Hal's promise, he rejects his old "tutor and the feeder of [his] riots," Falstaff. If Hal's success as a king depends on his willingness and ability to uphold law and justice in his kingdom, then Falstaff (a thief, a swindler, a corrupt military recruiter, and so on) has no place in his life. This is why many literary critics see Hal's rejection of Falstaff as a necessary and shrewd political move. On the other hand, some critics argue that Hal's banishment of his old friend is an unforgivable betrayal, which doesn't bode well for his reign as king. What do you think?