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Henry IV Part 2

Henry IV Part 2

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Voyage and Return

Anticipation Stage and 'Fall' into the Other World

Hal spends all his time with the commoners in Henry IV Part 1.

If we follow Prince Hal's trajectory throughout Richard II and Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2, we can see that Hal's story fits into what Christopher Booker calls the "Voyage and Return" plot. So, here goes: Born into a noble family, Hal was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. When his father becomes King Henry IV (in Richard II), Hal doesn't behave like a prince. Instead, he spends all his time (in Henry IV Part 1) carousing with low-life criminals in Eastcheap London.

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

Carousing with Falstaff and company is a total blast.

Hanging out with his new loser friends sure beats spending time at the stuffy old court, especially when Hal gets to do fun stuff like participate in the highway robbery of his father's treasury. But, here's where Prince Hal's story complicates Booker's outline of the "Voyage and Return" plot. Hal tells us that he's not a degenerate – he's only pretending to be one so he can stage a dramatic "reformation" that will enhance his future career as a monarch. In other words, Prince Hal is going to stage his very own "Voyage and Return." So, for now, he'll pretend to be a wild child and later, when he's king, he'll behave like his true self, which will endear him to his subjects.

Frustration Stage

Pretending to be bad is getting to be kind of a drag.

In Henry IV Part 2, Hal says he's grown tired of playing the role of the wayward son. His father is sick and he feels bad about it. Yet, he can't display his grief in public because everyone expects him to be a bad boy. Woe is Hal. Whatever will he do?

Nightmare Stage

King Henry IV accuses Hal of wishing his father was dead.

Hal's father has never understood why the prince hangs out with commoners and he also thinks his son wishes he, Henry IV, was dead. So, when Prince Hal tries on his dad's crown (after mistakenly assuming that his sleeping father is dead), the king blows up and tells Hal what a rotten kid he is. Poor Hal, if only his father knew the truth…

Thrilling Escape and Return

Hal makes up with his dad just before the king dies. Hooray, Hal is king and he doesn't have to feel bad about it.

With Henry IV on his deathbed, Hal takes the opportunity to confess that he loves his father and wants to be a good king. After Hal and Henry make nice, Henry dies and Hal is named King Henry V. This happens just in time because Hal was getting tired of the whole "good-for-nothing prince" routine. Good-bye Eastcheap slums and hello royal palace.

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