Did Henry IV bite of more than he could chew?

Did King Henry IV bite off more than he can chew?

With chaos ensuing all around him, murders unjustly occurring in his name, and a son whom he believed to be a rebel, King Henry’s rule seemed perpetually near its breaking point. Henry took over the throne against rightful law of the Kingdom, and deep down knew the same could happen to him. How can there be harmony when there are other rightful heirs to the throne? King Henry set forth by example taking what you want regardless of the rules, and that is exactly what is occurring all around him. A perfect example of this is when Hotspur answers the summons from the King. King Henry insists that Hotspur hand over all the prisoners from Scotland and when Hotspur refuses King Henry takes a threatening tone with him. Another example of a rebellious character doing as they want is Falstaff. Although it appears that the prince is smitten with Falstaff’s way of life, it is actually a scheme. I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish’d for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o’er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will. (Henry IV Part 1, 1.2.29)

Harry shows us here that you need strategy and planning to uphold your rightful place. He witnesses his father over throw the last king and he is securing his position as future king. Harry is making sure he has all his “people” in place and cementing his heroism.

It amazes me how the King spent so much time complaining and insulting his son, comparing him to Hotspur instead of trying to understand his sons’ actions. Although the King had showed Harry very little loyalty he had not deterred from his plan to support his father and impress everyone with his dramatic change in behavior. This shows true loyalty because it must have been hurtful to hear the unacceptance and betrayal of the King wishing for another man’s son to be his own. “See riot and dishonor stain the brow Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged In cradle clothes our children where they lay,” (I.i.77–88)

King Henry IV should have taken lesson from the fall of Richard II because he himself is not on stable ground. Just like the saying “What comes around goes around!”, unless that is you have someone two steps ahead of you, in this case lucky for the King it is Prince Harry.


One thought on “Did Henry IV bite of more than he could chew?

  1. lauriegrl14

    Did Henry bite off more than he can chew?
    It seems that way …he is weary, both physically and mentally from all the fighting and he has a heavy heart when he thinks of his son, Prince Harry living up to his kingship.
    Although I do like Prince Harry, I can not help but wish he was being honest about his true self. I don’t understand why he seems to think he has to go through all this trouble and deceit to prove himself to his father and the people of England. It seems very troubling to me that he feels as if he has to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes to gain their respect. It’s really not a true transformation at all. But I guess hanging around with the common people in Taverns all day is the lesser evil compared to banishing family from their own country and plotting the deaths of others.


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