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Henry IV Part 2 Rules and Order Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #10

I know thee not, old man. Fall to thy prayers.
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester.
I have long dreamt of such a kind of man,
So surfeit-swelled, so old, and so profane;
But being awaked, I do despise my dream.
Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace;
Leave gormandizing. Know the grave doth gape
For thee thrice wider than for other men.
Reply not to me with a fool-born jest. (5.5.47-55)

We knew this moment was coming (Hal promised to "banish plump Jack" back in Act 2, Scene 4 of Henry IV Part 1) but it's still painful. Now that Hal is a king who has embraced the Lord Chief Justice as his new mentor, Falstaff, who is nothing but a "fool and jester," is no longer an appropriate companion. If Hal is going to be a monarch who restores civil order to the kingdom, then publicly banishing Falstaff and ordering him to Fleet Prison is symbolic of Hal's readiness and willingness to uphold justice in England.

We're also interested in the way Hal attacks Falstaff's enormous size ("thrice-wider" than other men). Hal chides that Falstaff's body is a reflection of his excessive and indulgent lifestyle. (A point that Shakespeare makes throughout the play.) Falstaff's spent his entire life "gormandizing" (eating gluttonously and drinking non-stop) and his body is "surfeit-swell'd." Hmm. This harsh attack reminds us of Justice Shallow's reference to Shrovetide festivities (see 5.3 above). If Falstaff has lived his life as though it were one great big Shrovetide festival, then the party (and the gluttony) has definitely come to an end here.

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