Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 2 | Epilogue | Summary



A dancer apologizes for the unhappy ending and asks the audience for forgiveness. He says the story of Falstaff will continue and that Katherine of France will amuse them. He also disavows the resemblance between Falstaff and John Oldcastle (the person Falstaff was supposed to be based upon) since Oldcastle died a martyr and Falstaff was definitely not one.


Falstaff is one of Shakespeare's most popular and beloved characters. He knew audiences wished to see more of him, so he promises a play to assuage audience members upset at the ending of Henry IV, Part 2. His death is handled off page in Henry V, but Falstaff appears once more in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Supposedly he wrote it because the queen requested more Falstaff.

He denies the resemblance between the character of Falstaff and the real-life man, John Oldcastle (c. 1378–1417). Oldcastle's family was not pleased at Shakespeare's work (originally he had named Falstaff John Oldcastle), and he did not want to offend wealthy patrons.

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