Study Guide

Henry IV Part 2 Act 4, Scene 5

By William Shakespeare

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Act 4, Scene 5

Read the full text of Henry IV Part 2 Act 4 Scene 5 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • The scene continues and the king is carried into another room. Warwick calls for some soft music to be played and Clarence removes Henry's crown, setting it beside his head on a pillow.
  • Prince Hal arrives and, seeing that his father is ill, says he's going to sit beside his father while the old man sleeps. His brothers and Warwick leave him alone in the room with his father.
  • Prince Hal notices the crown sitting next to the king and says that it has caused his father a lot of trouble. Henry's duties as king have prevented him from getting any sleep or rest.
  • When Hal sees a down feather has landed on his father's lips and doesn't seem to be moving, he believes his father is no longer breathing and has died in his sleep.
  • Hal, rather tenderly (if not a bit briefly) expresses his grief and love for his father before picking up the crown, which he inherits as the king's first-born son.
  • Hal places the crown on his head and promises to guard the honor of the crown as he leaves the room.
  • Uh oh. King Henry wakes up from his nap and yells for his sons and Westmoreland – he wants to know why they've left him alone.
  • When Henry learns that Prince Hal was sitting with him and that his crown just happens to have gone missing, along with Hal, he's furious. Who does Hal think he is? After everything Henry has done for his kids, all sons are nothing but greedy little murderers.
  • Warwick enters in the middle of Henry's tirade to announce that he found Prince Hal in another room, crying over the death of his father. Hal was sobbing so much that his tears could have washed a bloody knife. (Hmm. That's an interesting way to put it, don't you think?)
  • Whatever, says Henry, who wants to know why Hal made off with his crown.
  • When Hal enters the room, everybody else high tails it out of there while King Henry lays into his rotten kid for trying to steal his crown before he's even dead. If Hal would have waited just a few hours longer, he wouldn't have had to steal it, Henry says bitterly. And another thing, the king's known all along that Hal's been hiding his murderous thoughts.
  • Boy oh boy, he adds, the kingdom's in for a treat when Hal becomes king – the monarch will be a murderer, a thief, and a ruffian, turning the kingdom into a "wilderness."
  • That's not so, insists Hal, who begs his father's pardon.
  • Hal returns the crown and kneels before his father. Then he says he only took the crown because he thought Henry was dead and he wanted to yell at the crown as if it were a person who was responsible for killing his father. Hal also says he only put the crown on his head because he wanted to argue with it and to see if it would make him think bad thoughts. If it did, he would take it off and never wear it again. Honest.
  • (Hmm. Is it just us or is this a totally inaccurate description of Hal's response when he thought the king was dead? Why would he lie? To sooth his father and prove his love? What do you think?)
  • King Henry forgives Hal and calls him over to his bed for one last heart-to-heart talk before he dies. Henry admits that his path to the crown was "crook'd" and says his son's reign will be better since he's inheriting the throne, not stealing it like Henry did. Henry also admits that his plan to lead a crusade to the Holy Land was just a diversionary tactic to keep people busy so they wouldn't try to depose him. If Hal's smart, he'll whip up a nice little foreign war to distract anyone who's thinking about civil rebellion. Henry then asks God to forgive him.
  • Hal promises to defend the crown, which will be rightfully his.
  • Prince John enters, followed by Warwick.
  • When Henry asks for the name of the room he was just in (the one in which he fainted), Warwick tells him that it's called the "Jerusalem Chamber."
  • Henry asks to be taken back there and says it's fitting that he'll die in a room called the Jerusalem Chamber. A long time ago, he heard it was prophesied that he would die in Jerusalem. At the time, Henry thought that meant he would die in the Holy Land but now he knows better.

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