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Henry IV Part 2 Weakness Quotes

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

Quote #7

Let us on,
And publish the occasion of our arms.
The commonwealth is sick of their own choice.
Their over-greedy love hath surfeited.
An habitation giddy and unsure
Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart.
O thou fond many, with what loud applause
Didst thou beat heaven with blessing Bolingbroke
Before he was what thou wouldst have him be.
And being now trimmed in thine own desires,
Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him
That thou provok'st thyself to cast him up.
So, so, thou common dog, didst thou disgorge
Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard,
And now thou wouldst eat thy dead vomit up
And howl'st to find it. What trust is in these
They that, when Richard lived, would have him die
Are now become enamoured on his grave.
Thou, that threw'st dust upon his goodly head
When through proud London he came sighing on
After th' admirèd heels of Bolingbroke,
Criest now 'O earth, yield us that king again,
And take thou this!' O thoughts of men accursed!
Past and to come seems best; things present
   worst. (1.3.89-114)

The rebel Archbishop of York suggests the entire kingdom is "sick" of King Henry and talks as though the commonwealth is a unified body that has become ill by feeding on the king (a metaphor for loving him too much). York complains that the same thing happened with the former king, Richard II, who the people loved at first but eventually "vomit[ed] up." Here, the idea of purging (throwing up) kings is associated with rebellion, the only way to get rid of a king.

Quote #8

But I tell thee,
my heart bleeds inwardly that my father is so sick;
and keeping such vile company as thou art hath in
reason taken from me all ostentation of sorrow. (2.2.45-48)

Prince Hal reminds us that his father, the king, is literally ill and even though the Prince's "heart bleeds" at the thought of it, he doesn't show it on the outside. Instead, he continues to keep "vile company" with the likes of Poins and Falstaff. Hals' response to the king's illness also alerts us to the fact that Henry's life and reign are coming to a close. Part of Hal's trajectory in the Henry IV Part 2 is to reconcile, once and for all, with his father, before the king dies. This is especially important for the well being of the country, which Hal will lead after his father's death.

Quote #9

Then you perceive the body of our kingdom
How foul it is, what rank diseases grow,
And with what danger near the heart of it.
It is but as a body yet distempered,
Which to his former strength may be restored
With good advice and little medicine.
My Lord Northumberland will soon be cooled. (3.1.38-44)

Even King Henry IV agrees the kingdom is "rank" with "disease." Unlike York, however, Henry believes the country is enfeebled because of the rebel uprising, not because he's a lousy monarch. The cure, according to Henry, depends on quashing the rebellion, which will "restore" the country's "strength."

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