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Henry IV Part 2 Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. King Henry IV accuses his son, Prince Hal, of having parricidal fantasies. Is Henry right to suggest that Hal wants his father dead? Why or why not?
  2. How does Shakespeare juxtapose "high" matters of state (the rebellion, the question of kingly succession, etc.) with "low" comedic matters (Falstaff's antics, the tavern scenes, and so on)? Can we make any specific parallels? If so, what are they and what purpose do such parallels serve?
  3. Hal's rejection of Falstaff is brutal. Some literary critics say Hal's banishment of his old friend is necessary and completely justifiable. Others see it as an unforgiveable betrayal. Now it's time for you to weigh in. Why does Hal banish his old friend? What does Hal's rejection of Falstaff say about Hal, his priorities, and his character?
  4. There are only four female characters (with speaking lines) in the play. How are they portrayed? What kinds of roles do they play? How do they interact with other characters? Do they have any impact on the plot?
  5. Prince Hal is generally viewed as the play's protagonist. If that's true, then why is it that we rarely see him (or his father)? Why doesn't Hal make an appearance until Act 2, Scene 2?

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