Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Henry IV, Act IV, Scene 1 and Instructions

Pub Crawlers and Courtiers: Please post your comment about Act IV scene 1 here.

Directions for Act IV posts. All three posts are due Friday, September 29.

Rebels: Read and think about how to perform 4.1. Read and comment on 4.2 and 4.3. Read 4.4, but no need to post a comment about that scene.
Pub Crawlers: Read and think about how to perform 4.2. Read and comment on 4.1 and 4.3. Read 4.4, but no need to post a comment about that scene.
Courtiers (You will perform a rebel scene): Read and think about how to perform 4.3. Read and comment on 4.1 and 4.2. Read 4.4, but no need to post a comment about that scene.

All groups: Read the comments on Mr. Sale’s class blog, Act IV. Post one comment to a student in that class: http://sale4th.blogspot.com/


Blogger The Katie S. said...


"Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury/ And vaulted with such ease into his seat/ As if an angel [dropped] down from the clouds,/ To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus/ And witch the world with noble horsemanship" (4.1.113-116). Wow, I just really loved these lines. I am rather a fan of anything related to flight and horses because I simply think both have intensely beautiful motion. One cannot think of running of a glorious horse as anything but beautiful, nor think a great bird soaring anything but magnificence. After all, they make it look so easy.

Also, in these lines and the ones just above it, we see more comparisons to horses (in a sense if you consider Pegasus a winged horse, right?), fire, and the sun. This brief passage was simply full of powerful images which emphasized others and brought more to mind. Vernon speaks very well.

4:24 PM  
Blogger jennis said...

Hey Katie,
I think you made an excellent point about the symbolism of this passage relating to horses. I think that this passage is extremely significant in exposing Hal and Hotspur's foiling attributes. This is really the first time in the play that we see a role-switch in the description of each character. In Act One, Scene One, King Henry hears secondary information about Hotspur’s valiant warfare and says that Hotspur is “sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride”(82). Now, Hotspur is hearing secondary information about valiant Hal and his “noble horsemanship”. (Role swap!) Just as in ancient Greek and Roman times, men were often judged in warfare by their riding skills, and this important story of Hal’s newfound success intimidates and threatens Hotspur beyond his recognition.
I also think that Shakespeare's name choice for Percy is interesting. Hotspur sounds kind of like a fiery and passionate colt or rash horsemen, reflective of Hotspur’s character. I completely agree that horses are a very important symbol not only throughout this scene, but all of Henry IV. Horses, whether tame or wild can act in unpredictable and glorious manners, just as Shakespeare’s characters do.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Kell-EH said...

4. "I saw young Harry with his beaver on,/ His cushes on his thighs, gallantly arm'd,/ Rise form the ground like feathered Mercury,/And vaulted with such ease into his seat/ As if an angel [dropp'd]down from the clouds/ To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,/ And witch the world with noble horesmanship"(IV.1.104-110).
Hotspur's reply, "No more, no more!worse than the sun in March"(IV.1.111).

I love this imagery. Especially hearing these words from a relatively outside source, Sir Rchard Vernon who is a rebel, helps to illustrate the change in Hal. These images are a more tangible vision of Hal's first soliloquy in which he vows to cast off the riftraft with which he consorts and in doing so shine more radiantly as King. Hotspur even remarks that he is so bright that Hal is painful to the eyes as is the sun in March. The manner in which he so easily jumps into his saddle in all of his glorious garb reminds me in contrast of MacBeth who cannot fill the robes of the King. This passage has the opposite feel and again foreshadows Hal's accention to glory. This warring King role fits him. The angel dropping down into his seat image validates his Devine Right and foreshadows a powerful and loved ruler.

9:53 PM  
Blogger kjohnst said...

Kelly -

That line stuck out to me as well; what was so poetic and meaningful about it was the heavenly imagery used. Not only does this further the heaven vs. hell motif, but it is the first time that we see Hal's true transformation. He actually is depicted as honorable; what a switch from his pub crawling days! Hotspur's bravado is very significant as well; after he hears of this prophetic description, Hotspur acts completely unaffected - or is he? He talks about fear quite a bit after he hears of Hal; this reveals his anxiety towards the situation, as he continually denies his fear. One final stab at the heaven motif: when these two Harrys meet on the battlefield, it will serve as a kind of judgment day for both; their valors will be weighed, and the man with the most honor will live on to take the glory and prestige of the crown.

10:09 PM  
Blogger  said...

Well! I guess I'm not the only one who loved the imagery provided by Vernon. What I imagined when I read this was in the disney Hercules when the Fates where telling Hades that if Hercules lives then he'll destroy him the day the planets align. Just that image of Hercules riding up into the sunlight on Pegasus - that one part. What this means to me is that Vernon is describing Hal almost as a God-like figure and scaring the crap out of Hotspur, "No more, no more!" (4.1.109).

Now, the tables have really turned. Instead of Hal hearing heroic tales of Hotspur it's opposite and Hotspur is feeling the heat.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Jesse! said...

4. In this scene, Vernon describes his impression of Prince Hal:
“And as gorgeous as the sun at midsummer…as if an angel dropped down from the clouds” (4.1.108, 114) In these beautiful lines, the son has finally come out to shine his glory upon the battlefield. The sun imagery reveals a great deal of Hal’s sudden transformation. Thus far, there is has never been concrete evidence of the Prince’s mental alteration from a pub crawler except through light imagery. Shakespeare utilizes imagery to portray a grand and dramatic character change, even the corpulent image of Falstaff makes it more believable that he is greedy and sinful. Vernon’s majestic speech, highly contrasts against the serious tone of war and with Hotspur’s lines about blood. It highlights hope. The images of heaven and gods (Mercury), also contradicts with Hotspur’s disbelief of the supernatural. Clearly, Hotspur and Hal are complete opposites as the lowly Roan compares to the Pegasus. (“hot horse to horse”-4.1.128)

3:22 PM  
Blogger KatieF said...


Do you think that Hal's "walk in the light" executes his initial plan or making himself look better? Does it forgive all his past errors?

3:30 PM  
Blogger Emma V said...

Katie s. I love that imagery too! “All furnished, all in arms, All plumed like estridges that with the wind Bated like eagles having lately bathed, Glittering in golden coats like images, As full of spirit as the month of May, as gorgeous as the sun of midsummer…” (4.1. 103-108). The words just flow as gracefully as the wind and eagles that they describe.

One aspect of the syntax that I noticed was that at the end of act one Hotspur ended his phrase with two rhyming couplets:
“My father and Glendower being both away,
The powers of us may serve so great a day,
Come, let us take a muster speedily,
Doomsday is near. Die all, die merrily.”

I thought that this was interesting because at the end of scene three, Hal ends his phrase with a rhyming couplet as well:
“The land is burning. Percy stands on high,
And either we or they must lower lie.”

These lines may be poetically emphasized because they are both very noble statements and they also allude to the outcome of the battle. These phrases are also a call to arms and preparation of battle to their soliders.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Emma V said...

sorry i think that was probably a question 8!

5:12 PM  
Blogger DanaitA said...

# 4

"And think how such an apprehension/ May turn the tide of fearful faction/And breed a kind of question in our cause" (66-68)
These lines stuck out to me the most due to the irony. I think that it is ironic that the rebels are worried are now worrying about their followers doubting them and perhaps even rebelling against them, just like they have rebelled against the king. This irony also parallels with the description that Vernon gives about Hal looking almost God-like readying for war. The tables are beginning to turn. First, the rebels doubted the king and lead a rebellion against him, and now they are worried about their own followers rebelling against them. Second, Hal was seen as weak and not royalty material because he was hangina round with the Pub Crawlers and constantly being compared to Hotspur who was so great, and now Hal is being described as so great and Hotspur is startin to swear in his boots.

7:22 PM  
Blogger dharmabum4 said...


I didn't pick up on these lines you mentioned, interesting to point them out, especially because that scene seems to represent a shift in the contrast of Hotspur and Hal. As you said, Hal is now the brilliant hero being talked about by his enemies, not Hotspur. I also noticed that Hotspur's reaction was both similar and different to Hal's reaction on hearing praise of Percy. Both of these young men are eager to prove themselves in battle; Hal says that he will kill Percy and prove his merit and Hotspur says he will kill Hal. But Hotspur, unlike Hal, will not sit idle and listen to such praise for long (again showing his hot-headedness). Instead he cries "No more, no more" and refuses to listen. Thanks for pointing these lines out to me. I must have overlooked them.

7:24 PM  
Blogger EmilyR said...

I like the irony you mention. I hadn't really noticed that before. I also like how you point out how The tables have kind of turned. Now Hotspur is being compared to Hal instead of Hal being compared to hotspur. I think, too, that it really shows a turning point in the play. Hal has been searching for the respect of his father and while he hasn't achieved it yet, He has indeed gained more respect from the rest of the courtiers and his countrymen.

7:38 PM  
Blogger JonathanH said...

Maybe I'm in a weird mood but it seems to me that Shakespeare was lacking alot in this scene. Based off of what is going on contextually, one would think the scene could have been a little spicier. Perhaps I'm just crazy. In any case, the character of Vernon was slightly puzzling. Where exactly did he get his information? His introduction as a character to the play seems a touch on the random side. Shakespeare could have easily written the information that Vernon presents by using another charcater that had already been active in the play, such as a messenger from an earlier scene. What is the significance of Vernon's character in Henry IV?

7:43 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...


I thought of the same thing in Disney when I read this! I also was thinking about how Hercules started out as this awkward boy that no one really liked because he messed up everything. By the end of the movie, when he becomes a god, he has this golden glow and an intense, somber expression on his face. Hal has kind of become that hero for me. He totally pulled off his plan, and is now the golden hero that is terrifying the opponents. Indeed, Hotspur is definitely feeling the heat. He has grown so cocky from praise from being well-known as an amazing soldier. After hearing the intimidating description of Hal, you can tell he's disgusted and totally afraid. This seems to almost increase his rashness, and he tries to begin the war even earlier, despite all the disadvantages. You almost gotta feel sorry for the guy; imagine the bummer of finding out that you DO have a rival, after being undefeated beforehand. The complexity of Hal's character is apparent with this incredible description of him. Although his earlier plot to impress people makes sense, if he already was such a talented soldier and horseman, I think hanging out with the pub crawlers was almost a waste of time. On the other hand, he became well known by all the men of lower-stature men, which in time will probably help him.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Megan M said...

3. Why is Hotspur suddenly acting so much more mature than we've seen him thus far, and such an optimist? Throughout this scene, I was continually surprised by Hotspur's comments; while not necessarily level-headed, they were moreso than I would have expected. He turns every negative piece of news into a positive: "You strain too far./I rather of his absence make this use:/It lends a luster and more great opinion,/A larger dare, to our great enterprise/Than if the Earl were here" (lines 75-79), and similar "glass half full" contributions. Why is he being so optimistic? Is it merely his pride coming into play, thinking he is sure to win no matter what the drawbacks, or is he showing some unexpected tact in trying to keep up his mens' morale?

8:02 PM  
Blogger Sarah A said...

Hey Danait,

I hadn't even noticed the irony you pointed out. Now I definately see instances of how the tables are turning from Hotspur at least a little bit more in Hal's direction. After his conversation with King Henry I think Hal has really started to pull himself together, however Hotspur seems to be losing his edge for battle when all of his advisors have warned him to wait for reinforcements before going off to fight, but Hotspur insists "Tonight, say I!" (IV.iii.21). Hotspur is known for being a great fighter, but skillfull fighting requires caution and forethought, and here Hotspur seems to be becoming rash. Even if Hotspur's troops don't desert, I think his unwillingness to heed advice is foreshadowing the outcome of the battle in Hal's favor.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Matt L said...

8. Why did Shakespeare have Vernon and Hotspur converse using Greek and Roman mythology? Vernon describes Hal's presence when he says "(Hal) Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury/ And vaulted with such ease into his seat/ As if an angel [dropped] down from the clouds,/ To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus/ And witch the world with noble horsemanship." Hotspur obviously takes offense to Hal being compared to the God's when he responds, "The mailèd Mars shall on his altar sit/ Up to the ears in (Hal's) blood." What is the significance to these images? What do they say about Hal and Hotspur?

8:22 PM  
Blogger Nathan H said...

2. The significance of this scene is Hotspur's reaction to hearing the news of his father's health: he bypasses all concern for his father and busies himself instead with carrying out the plan shorthanded. Hotspur's talk is finally becoming action.

8:25 PM  
Blogger julie s said...

4. I realize this comment has already been made, but the imagery when Vernon describes Hal with his army is by far what grabbed my attention the most in this scene. "Glittering in golden coats like images," (line 100), I love this line. I can just picture an army, Hal leading them, all knights on horseback with glossy gold armor.

"I saw young Harry with his beaver on, his cuisses on his thighs, gallantly armed rise from the ground like feathered Mercury... as if an angel dropped down from the clouds," (lines 104-108). I can see Hal literally floating on air into his saddle, a godly glow around him, and time moving slowly enough to make the moment as dramatic as possible. I'm sure modern movie special effects could really make this scene as vivid as Shakespeare describes it.

I was impresed with how eloquent Vernon's description. I mean, of course everything is eloquent in some way because it is Shakespeare, but this passage was exceptional. I didn't expect that from his character.

Also, I agree with you Katie about horses. It's true that you can't think of a running horse as anything but beautiful.

9:43 PM  
Blogger marci said...

megan m,
Why is Hotspur suddenly acting so much more mature than we've seen him thus far, and such an optimist?

I noticed that as well. SEeing as how other people have touched on this, i think the pressure of the switch from Hal being compared to Hotspur to Hotspur being compared to Hal affected the way Hotspur dealt with conflicts. If you noticed, it was not characteristic of Hotspur to decide not to go to war the night that Blunt came with an appeal from the king. It was definitely a mature move on his part; and i think some underlying reasons included the fact that he wanted to regain his angel-like status and reverance amongst the nobles. I would not go so far as to say that he was moving in the optomistic direction, however, I would say that he toned down his extremist attitude because he knew it was not winning him points

10:44 PM  
Blogger joshb said...

Hey Matt L,
I noticed the same resentful and violent light that both the Prince and Hotspur view each other in. There appears to be some sort of competition rising out of a genuine dislike for each other. When talking to Henry IV in Act III, Hal mentions that “Percy is but my factor” (III.ii.147) and that he will depose his quick-tempered enemy from Honor’s pedestal. They both view the defeat of the other young opponent, their rival, as the best stepping stone towards power. I think and hope there will be a good show down between the two youngsters in Act V.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Emily S said...

Megan M -
I am also having trouble deciphering Hotspur's actions in the scene, but I take his attitude and comments to be more negative than acting mature. I can definitely see your side to it, and how you would believe that he is being more mature and optimistic when he believes himself capable of fighting without his father, but I also believe he is being led into a false sense of superiority and feeling of greatness. I believe that in the end, Hotspur's actions will lead him to failure, and that his tone and way of life is immature and pointless.

9:02 AM  
Blogger lizzyh said...

The role of Vernon is interesting, and you have to admit that his language is absolutely beautiful. Shakespeare uses Vernon as an outsider to show Prince Henry’s turn in character. Prince Henry is finally taking his place and making his mark on the world. In Prince Henry’s first soliloquy he says: “Shall I falsify men’s hopes; and, like bright metal on a sullen ground, my reformation, glittering oe’r my fault, shall show more goodly and attract more eyes.” Even Vernon, being an outsider, can see Prince Henry is coming into the noble person he declares he will become. Vernon isn’t necessarily too tainted by the rebel’s opinions; if Worchester, or an extreme rebel, were telling Hotspur about Prince Henry, this information could be altered and Hotspur would receive news that Prince Henry is pathetic and easy to crush. Vernon as an outsider proves that a regular person coming into the situation can see that Prince Henry has become the “bright metal” he said he would become. Even Hotspur says the description of Henry is “worse than the sun in March.”

11:15 AM  
Blogger Gabrielle M said...

I agree that the rebels are begining to doubt their leader Hotspur. Worcester in this scene tells hotspur that they need to present a united front in this fight because the kings forces are so large. Hotspur is becoming nevrvous though during the time of preparation he has been strong. Also he tells his folowers to "go and die merily." Hotspur would rather die for this purpose of avenging his family than bow do this semmingly undefeatable army that is offering him peace.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Arielle said...


As these roles change and the rebels start to fear internal rebellion, we're forced to wonder why? Why would the rebels fear sudden mutiny if their cause was truly just? What does this say about rebellion in general and how Hotspur represents the idea of "rebellion" as the leader of the "front"? Had they been more practical and critical of themselves and their own beliefs, would their following be stronger?

8:31 PM  
Blogger Meghan L said...

Danait -

Your comments brought forth a quote I hadn't really noticed before and they really placed a whole different perspective on the scene.

You described an interesting turn of events in the play. The whole play is really starting to come together now, the quotes in the beginning that foreshadowed events are starting to make sense, like when Hal says "when men think least I will."

I think we knew all along Hal would rise to glory and Hotspur would fall, simply because the he was at the top and the only place he could go was down. But even though these events were foreshadowed, the way that they are manifesting themselves fits the characters so well.

Anyway, you touched on a subject that I hadn't really noticed before, and I like it!

9:11 PM  
Blogger katew said...

Emma v.-

"Come, let us take a muster speedily,
Doomsday is near. Die all, die merrily.”
I also like this couplet because it is extreemely reflective on Hotspur's character. He is a brash young fool that almost dreams of dying in battle. You are right that these lines probably prophisize the outcome of the battle. It is pretty clear from both Hotspur and Hal that only one of them is going to live through it.
A question that came up for me was:
Does Hotspur really believe that he can win? Is he that cocky, or is he putting on an act to encourage his troops/allies?

9:12 AM  
Blogger Brett E. said...

Katie S., I agree, those lines are very powerful. They suggest something divine, and not just superficial. It's good to see that in literature, because it's constantly a reminder to you as to the people's culture, as in The Odyssey, or as to your own ideas on religion, as in here.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Brett E. said...

I do agree with you about the lack of flair that seems to be in this scene. It is a bit slow, not too elaborate, and sometimes uninteresting. You're not alone!

6:27 AM  

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