Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry IV, Part 2 | Induction | Summary

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Summary

Henry IV, Part 2 begins in the wake of the Battle of Shrewsbury (Henry IV, Part 1). The personified figure of Rumor reminds everyone of the truth of what happened at the battle: King Henry defeated Hotspur. However, Rumor plans to spread false information about the outcome of the battle. He claims that Hotspur, not King Henry, won and that the king bent his head to the earl of Douglas and the rebels. He plans to pass this information along to Hotspur's father, Northumberland, to confound him.

Analysis

Rumor is both filling the audience in on the events that occurred in Henry IV, Part 1 and giving them a warning. He admonishes them that false information in the form of gossip (and rumor) is dangerous. He says, "From Rumor's tongues / They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs" (39–40). Being told false good news is worse than being told the truth, even if the truth is painful or not what you want to hear. The truth will eventually come out and cause even more pain. We see an example of this in Act 1, Scene 1 when Northumberland receives false news that his rebellion was a success.

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