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Henry IV Part 2 Warfare Quotes

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

Quote #7

Wherefore do I this? So the question stands.
Briefly, to this end: we are all diseased
And with our surfeiting and wanton hours
Have brought ourselves into a burning fever,
And we must bleed for it; (4.1.56-60)

Archbishop of York claims that a little blood shed during battle is just the thing the "diseased" country needs in order to heal. What the heck is he talking about? How is it possible to "heal" a country with bloodshed? Basically, York is punning on the old school medical practice of "bleeding" sick patients. The idea was that the human body was made up of four basic elements, called humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. These elements were supposed to influence a person's general health, disposition, and mood. When someone got sick, one of the first things a physician did was check to make sure all the "humors" were in balance (by inspecting blood, stool, urine, mucous, and so on). If it was looking like a person had too much blood, then the solution was to drain some of it (using blood-sucking leeches or a sharp knife). Check out "Quotes" for "Weakness" if you're interested in learning more about the play's portrayal of disease.

Quote #8

Good tidings, my Lord Hastings, for the which
I do arrest thee, traitor, of high treason.—
And you, Lord Archbishop, and you, Lord Mowbray,
Of capitol treason I attach you both. (4.1.362-365)

If Henry IV Part 1 portrayed dramatic battle scenes, the show-down between the king's forces and the rebels in Part 2 is decidedly anti-climactic, you know? The fact that Prince John tricks the rebels into disarming suggests the play is more about political strategy than physical warfare.

Quote #9

Therefore, my Harry,
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne
May waste the memory of the former days. (4.5.371-374)

Hmm. Why is Henry IV advising Prince Hal to drum up a foreign war when he becomes king? To "busy giddy minds," of course. In other words, a foreign war might be just the thing to keep idle minds from thinking about waging a civil war against the king. This bit of fatherly advice seems to suggest that Henry IV has wanted to lead a crusade (for the past three plays) in order to distract his enemies, no?

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