Study Guide

Henry IV Part 2 Induction

By William Shakespeare

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

  • Note: Before we begin, you might want to review our brief "Summary" of Henry IV Part 1, which also includes a quick recap of events from Richard II.
  • Henry IV Part II opens with an "Induction," which is just another word for prologue or an introduction that leads into the main event of the play.
  • Rumour steps onto the stage, wearing a visually dramatic robe that's "painted full of tongues." (Note: Rumour is not a human character – it's a personification, which means that rumor, an abstract idea, is given human qualities.)
  • Rumour is pretty aggressive here – commanding the audience to open its ears so Rumour can "stuff" them full of lies. The figure also tells us that it rides around the world on the wind, spreading false reports in every language.
  • In fact, Rumour has just blown in from the "Orient" and, with the help of the common folk, Rumour has been spreading lies about the recent battle at Shrewsbury all throughout the "peasant towns" of England. Word on the street, thanks to Rumour, is that Hotspur killed Prince Hal and the Scottish Douglas killed King Henry IV. But, the truth is that the king's army trounced the rebel forces at the end of Henry IV Part 1.
  • Brain snack: In the Renaissance, Rumour was often associated with warfare. Check out this image of Rumour covered with ears and blowing a trumpet as Mars, the god of war, follows behind. The image is from Vincenzo Cartari's Images Deorum, 1582).
  • Shakespeare's portrayal of Rumour may be based on "Fama" from Virgil's Aeneid. Virgil's "Fama" is a female monster covered in tongues, ears, and eyes and she spreads both true and false reports about various events.
  • Rumour announces that it's making a pit-stop at Warkworth castle, where the Earl of Northumberland is laying low and pretending to be sick (to avoid participating in the battle at Shrewsbury). Northumberland's been waiting for some news of the recent skirmish and Rumour is more than happy to oblige.
  • (Not sure where Warkworth castle is located? Check out this nifty map, which includes all the major geographic locations in the history plays. Tip: Click on the map to enlarge the image and you'll see that Warkworth castle is in northern England.)

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