Study Guide

Henry IV Part 2 Act 4, Scene 2

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Act 4, Scene 2

Read the full text of Henry IV Part 2 Act 4 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • The scene continues.
  • The rebel leaders meet up with Prince John, who lectures the Archbishop about taking up arms against the king when he should be back at home with his bible, preaching about peace and obedience. Prince John says that the Archbishop is seriously abusing his religious authority by using his power to get the people all riled up against the king. The Archbishop, he says, should know better than anyone that the king is God's "substitute."
  • History Snack: Prince John is referring to a political theory known as the doctrine of "divine right," which says that kings are appointed by God to be his representatives on earth. Rebelling against the king is tantamount to sinning against God. Queen Elizabeth, who ruled England at the time the play was written, even made the churches in England read a sermon (on a regular basis) called "Homily Against Disobedience and Willful Rebellion." Rebellion, according to the Elizabethan worldview, was a "great a sin against God."
  • York responds that he has no choice because King Henry has refused to address the rebels' grievances. Mowbray and Hastings chime in that they're prepared to fight.
  • Prince John says he's had a chance to look over the rebel's list of grievances and he's prepared to put things to rights. If the rebels send their troops home, Prince John will do the same and they can all sit down and have a drink together, toasting their love for one another.
  • York accepts and Prince John raises his glass in a toast and assures the rebels that they have his word on it – their grievances will be addressed.
  • Hastings gives orders to Coleville to send the rebel troops home and the rebel leaders drink a toast to peace.
  • Mowbray says that he's suddenly feeling sick and the others tell him to cheer up.
  • The rebel troops can be heard in the distance, shouting in celebration of the peace compact. The Archbishop of York says it's great that both sides have come out winners today.
  • Prince John sends Westmoreland to send the king's troops home and makes small talk with the rebel leaders, even suggesting that they all lodge together that night.
  • Westmoreland returns with news that the king's forces refuse to disband until Prince John delivers a speech. Just then, Hastings announces that the rebel army has disbanded – the troops have run home like schoolboys on the last day of classes.
  • Then Westmoreland turns to Hastings, York, and Mowbray and says, "Surprise! You're all under arrest for treason."
  • Mowbray says something like "No fair! You promised to redress our grievances and now you've betrayed our trust."
  • Prince John replies that he's going to address their grievances but first he's also going to sentence the rebels to death.

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