Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 2 | Act 2, Scene 1 | Summary



At the Eastcheap market in London, Mistress Quickly enters with Fang and Snare, ordering them to arrest Falstaff when he arrives for not paying his debts to her. She warns them—with some sexual innuendo—that Falstaff is not afraid to use his "weapon" and stabbed her in her own house. Falstaff arrives with Bardolph (different from Lord Bardolph) and his page. When Fang and Snare try to arrest him, he orders Bardolph to fight them.

The Lord Chief Justice arrives, drawn to the commotion. Mistress Quickly relays the charges against Falstaff, including that he promised to marry her. Falstaff denies everything, implies that Mistress Quickly pretends to have had a son by the Lord Chief Justice, and insists that he (Falstaff) is too dignified and important to deal with this mess, but the Lord Chief Justice orders him to pay his debts.

Gower, a messenger, announces that the king and the prince are nearby. Falstaff takes Quickly aside and tells her he will have her money when he joins her and Doll Tearsheet for dinner that evening—although he needs to borrow some more in the meantime. The Lord Chief Justice reminds Falstaff that he needs to continue raising troops rather than waste his time in taverns, and he leaves with Gower.


We get a further example of Falstaff's character in this scene with Mistress Quickly trying to get paid the debts Falstaff owes her. When Fang and Snare attempt to apprehend him, Falstaff orders Bardolph to fight them for him, again showing a bit of cowardice in not doing it himself. When the Lord Chief Justice arrives, Falstaff once again insults the man.

However, we also see his charm at work as he convinces Quickly to drop the charges and lend him more money. Quickly knows what he is, but she can't seem to help herself. She believes his lies because she wants to. In fact, a number of other characters often do the same.

The Lord Chief Justice seems unimpressed with Falstaff and is certainly not one to fall for his flattery or humor. Their interaction illustrates the themes of father-son relationships in the play. In Henry IV, Part 1 Falstaff has been in conflict with King Henry IV as Prince Hal's father figure. In Henry IV, Part 2 the Lord Chief Justice steps into Henry's role as the king's health weakens. Falstaff represents Hal's past irresponsibility; the Lord Chief Justice represents his future as a responsible monarch. Perhaps that is why he is one of the few able to resist Falstaff.

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