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King Henry IV: Q & A

For more detailed study questions and answers, please see Shakespeare Explained: Quick Questions on Henry IV.

What is the role of nature in 1 King Henry IV, 2 King Henry IV, and Henry V?

Nature is used throughout the history plays to represent the civil strife caused by the usurpation of a monarch. The doctrine of the time stressed the divine right of kings and the chaos that would ensue as a result of overthrowing an ordained ruler. You will notice that the strongest imagery of nature as a negative force comes from the great usurper himself, Henry IV. Examine the following passages in 1 Henry IV to get the full impact of the role of nature: (1.1.5-33), (1.3.60), (3.2.75), (3.2.100)

The same holds true for 2 Henry IV. Note the following passages: (1.1.4-6), (4.1.95-100), (4.5.129-132) (these lines stress our likeness to violent animals when we stray from our loyalty to the true king).

In Henry V, nature plays more of a dual role because it represents Hal's good qualities as a ruler in addition to representing civil unrest. The following passages are important: (1.2.164-175), (1.1.25-40), (1.1.60-66), (2.4.34-40;80;100), (3.1.7-10), (3.7.154), (5.1.39-60), (5.2.36ff).

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. 1 Henry IV: Q & A Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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King Henry IV. From an old engraving.