Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 2 | Act 5, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

In Justice Shallow's garden in Gloucestershire, Falstaff, Justice Silence, Shallow, Bardolph, Davy, and the page drink, sing songs, and converse. Pistol arrives with the news that King Henry IV has died and Prince Hal is King Henry V. Falstaff is pleased and readies himself to go to London because he believes he'll be rewarded now that Prince Hal is king. He tells his companions to prepare themselves for similar rewards, boasting that "the laws of England are at my commandment" because he anticipates a change in the administration of the law with the dispossession of the Lord Chief Justice.

Analysis

This scene returns to Falstaff and Gloucestershire, again a lively contrast to the stiffness of the kingly scene before it. There are singing and jokes, food and wine, a revelry rather than a funeral—quite the contrast from the stress present in the previous scene.

When Falstaff receives news of Prince Hal's ascension to the throne, he races off to see him. In this moment he reveals his genuine fondness for Hal, even as he's promising his followers high positions in the new king's administration. He legitimately seems to want to be at Hal's side, though his selfish desires quickly find expression. He certainly plans to use his position for wealth and advancement. Falstaff can't know how much Hal, his friend, has disappeared into the new King Henry V. Shakespeare sets up this good-hearted moment to later dash it when Henry repudiates him in public.

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