We learned that the word “blood” appears more than fifty times in Richard II. We find this word again in Henry IV several times, which strengthens the connection between these two plays even further. In 3.2, King Henry mentions the importance of blood when talking to Prince Harry. He’s disappointed that his son has not followed in his footsteps because he has royal blood and should hold himself a certain way in front of the public eye. Harry has been hanging around commoners and is not showing an interest in becoming king, and Henry believes that he is being punished by God for having such a difficult son. “I know not whether God will have it so for some displeasing service I have done, that in his secret doom out of my blood he’ll breed revengement and a scourge for me” (4-6). This is a typical example of the common parent-disappointed-in-child storyline where the young son is not meeting the expectations of his proud father. This is seen all over the place in books, movies, and television shows and we have to ask ourselves – who is right? Personally, I understand King Henry’s motives in getting his son to accept that he is of royal blood, but he does it in a very harsh way. If I were Harry, I would have a lot of trouble hearing my father speak to me the way that Henry does.
What is also very important about the word “blood” making an appearance here is that it is not only alluding to Richard II, but Henry even brings him up when speaking to his son. He tells Harry that Richard “mingled his royalty with cap’ring fools” and that he was “being daily swallowed by men’s eyes, they surfeited with honey, and began to loathe the taste of sweetness” (63, 70-73). After explaining everything that Richard had done wrong during his rule, he tells his son, “And in that very line, Harry, standest thou” (84). It’s very interesting and shocking that Henry compares Harry to Richard. He is telling him that he is doing everything wrong, which is setting himself up to become a bad king, like Richard was. This is slightly ironic, because Henry was the one who de-throned Richard and indirectly was the reason that he was killed. And now there is already a group of rebels who believe that Henry is a bad king, so should Harry even be taking Henry’s advice? Also, we have to wonder if the vast amounts of pressure that Henry is putting on Harry will ultimately kill him, just like he killed Richard.