Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
The world of Henry IV Part 2 is much darker and more foreboding than that of Henry IV Part 1. This second part is full of images of disease and decay and is obsessed with the inevitable passage of time – King Henry IV is ailing and even Prince Hal, who must comes to terms with his father's illness and death, is weary.
While there are plenty of boisterous and comedic moments in the play – especially in the infamous tavern scenes where the commoners cut loose – even these episodes are overshadowed by a somber mood. Falstaff is as raucous as ever, but he also complains "I am old. I am old" (2.4.27). In one of the most painful moments in the tetralogy, the larger than life Falstaff, whose aging body is subject to disease in this play, is ultimately banished by his beloved Hal.