Study Guide

Pistol, Bardolph, and Nim in Henry V

By William Shakespeare

Pistol, Bardolph, and Nim

Like Falstaff and Mistress Quickly, Pistol, and Bardolph are Henry's old Eastcheap pals from Henry IV Part 1. In Henry V, they're back for some more fun (read: stealing, boozing, cheating, lying, etc.) and they've got a new pal named Nim.

In the play, the guys leave Eastcheap and join Henry's army in France, where Bardolph and Nim are sentenced to death for looting. What's interesting is that when King Henry finds out that Bardolph will be executed for stealing from a French church, he doesn't seem to care:

We would have all such offenders so cut
off: and we give express charge, that in our marches
through the country there be nothing compelled
from the villages, nothing taken but paid for,
none of the French upbraided or abused in disdainful

Is this evidence that Henry is cold and callous? After all, Bardolph is an old pal. Or, is this just evidence that Henry is no longer the wild, irresponsible kid he used to be? We can argue either way but one thing is certain – Henry is a serious king and he means serious business, which is probably why there's no room in the play for Bardolph's and Nim's monkey business. We can apply this same theory to Falstaff and Mistress Quickly, too.