978-0-415-02750-2 / 9780415027502

King Henry IV (The Arden Shakespeare) (Pt. 1)


Publisher:Thomson Learning



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About the book:

As Henrys throne is threatened by rebel forces, England is divided. The characters reflect these oppositions, with Hal and Hotspur vying for position, and Falstaff leading Hal away from his father and towards excess. Falstaff still towers among Shakespeares comic inventions as he did in the late 1590s. David Bevington's introduction discusses the play in both performance and criticism from Shakespeares time to our own, illustrating the variety of interpretations of which the text is capable. He analyses the plays richly textured language in a detailed commentary on individual words and phrases and clearly explains its historical background. Written between 1596 and 1597, Henry IV Part One represents Shakespeares increasingly mature talent in staging the history of the early Tudor monarchy. Midway in the cycle of Shakespeares History Plays, which begin with Richard II and ultimately culminate in his last play, Henry VIII, Henry IV Part One tells the story of the troubled reign of Henry IV following his deposition of Richard II. The historical action revolves around the attempt by Henry Percy (known as Hotspur) to overthrow Henry at the Battle of Shrewsbury. However, over half the play deals with the transformation of Henrys profligate son, Prince Hal (the future King Henry V), from tavern joker to national icon. The whole play is stolen from its kings and princes by Shakespeares greatest comic creation, the fat-kidneyed rascal Sir John Falstaff, king of his own dominions--the taverns and brothels of London's Eastcheap district. The tavern scenes of the play are some of the most evocative accounts of 16th-century popular London life. They revolve around the comical but ultimately sinister relationship between Falstaff and his young apprentice Hal, who learns to so offend to make offence a skill as he learns the slippery ropes of realpolitik and kingship.

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