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King Henry IV, Part 1

Please see the bottom of this page for helpful Henry IV resources.
Please see the bottom of each scene for extensive explanatory notes.

Next: Henry IV Part 1, List of Characters


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In the Spotlight

Quote in Context

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.
                                                         1 Henry IV (1.2)

Here Prince Hal reveals his plan to achieve popularity amongst the people he knows he will one day rule. Hal has every intention of leaving behind his life of wine and petty theft. His mischievous behaviour is merely part of a political maneuver to look as good as possible when he does finally gain power. His association with the likes of Falstaff allows him a connection to the common people that will be vital during his reign as Henry V. This passage foretells how successful Hal will be when he obtains the throne. In the words of Machiavelli: "experience shows us that in our times the rulers who have done great things are those who have set little store by keeping their word, being skillful rather in cunningly confusing men" (The Prince). Read on...