Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 2 | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

At the palace, the Earl of Warwick informs the Lord Chief Justice of King Henry IV's death. The Lord Chief Justice is concerned that Prince Hal—now King Henry V—will bear him a grudge for his past treatment of him. The younger princes, John of Lancaster, Humphrey of Gloucester, and Thomas of Clarence, enter with similar concerns, and comment that the Lord Chief Justice will have to treat Falstaff better than he deserves.

King Henry V arrives. He speaks to the Lord Chief Justice, saying he has not forgotten the man's treatment of him in the past. The Lord Chief Justice states he was following King Henry IV's orders and did his duty. The new king agrees the justice did the right thing and tells him he will expect the same behavior when he has a son of his own. They are reconciled.

Analysis

This scene is the turning point in the play, and to some extent Henry IV, Part 1 as well. Prince Hal is fully transformed into King Henry V. The nobles of the court, especially the Lord Chief Justice, regard him with trepidation, still doubting his intentions and seriousness. They were not privy to the conversation father and son had, so they can only think they are still dealing with the riotous Prince Hal. Thomas of Clarence even goes so far as to tell the Lord Chief Justice he "must now speak Sir John Falstaff fair, / Which swims against your stream of quality" (34–35).

The Lord Chief Justice plays an important role in the creation of King Henry V. He is a symbol of Henry's repudiation of Falstaff and all he represents. With Henry IV dead, the Lord Chief Justice now becomes Henry V's father figure, as the king himself says, "You shall be as a father to my youth" (119). His ascendency to kingship is complete. Henry V is setting aside Falstaff, Prince Hal's father figure, and his chaotic life, lawbreaking ways, and carousing, in favor of the Lord Chief Justice, a man who exemplifies the rule of law. Significantly he has specifically done this despite having reason to personally dislike the Lord Chief Justice, showing he values the concerns of his kingdom more than those of his private life.

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