Henry IV, Part 1 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 1 | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Back in the tavern, Falstaff complains about how thin he's grown and asks the hostess if she knows who stole from him. He wants to find a ring that he claims is expensive, but the hostess insists she is honest and does not know where it is.

Prince Hal enters with Peto and tells everyone they are at war. He also admits to picking Falstaff's pockets and says he has paid back the money Falstaff stole. Before leaving, he puts Falstaff in charge of a group of foot soldiers.

Analysis

This scene works as another comic interlude to relieve tension after the father-son clash in the previous scene. Shakespeare often places scenes of wit and wordplay after emotionally tense scenes to lighten the mood and prepare the audience for another climax.

In this scene, Falstaff is back to his old ways, reshaping reality to match his desires and accusing other people of his own sins. His ring is an effective symbol of this. Although Falstaff claims that his precious ring was filched, Prince Hal reveals that the ring was both worthless and certainly not stolen (the only thing the prince took from Falstaff's pockets were receipts).

This scene also provides Prince Hal with his first opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to his father. As the prince enters the tavern, a petty argument is ongoing between the hostess, Falstaff, and Bardolph. When Prince Hal is called upon to judge between them, he dismisses this nonsense and gives his friends more important tasks to accomplish.

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