Henry IV, Part 1

Content Group

King Henry IV, Part 1, 19th Century

This enormously popular play has always been rated as one of Shakespeare's outstanding theatrical successes, mostly because of the Gargantuan figure of Falstaff, whose witty skepticism transcends the form of the history play and becomes an archetype for humorous self-indulgence (see this humoral Falstaff, plus portrayals by Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, James Henry Hackett, Michael Cronin, and Tony Van Bridge). In performance this figure often becomes grotesquely exaggerated and actors are usually nervous about excessive audience expectations. Nevertheless, the script dexterously interweaves its several plot lines, the robbery at Gadshill, Prince Hal's relations with his two father-figures, and the Percys' rebellion, all neatly reaching a dynamic climax in the series of spectacular duels at the battle of Shrewsbury. The alternations of tone and topic—political, moralist, military, domestic—are well-designed to entertain the audience. The script also uses history didactically, often approximating to a morality play in which Falstaff seems to be a vice-figure tempting the young prince to betray his obligations as heir to the throne. Modern psychiatry may even see Hal not just as Everyman but as the Ego trying to arbitrate between the temptations of the Libido incarnated in Falstaff and the obsessions of the Superego, detectable in Hotspur's fixation on honor—not to mention the Oedipal tensions of sons and fathers throughout. Most critics feel the play stands perfectly on its own, with Hal committing himself to the established order, but his full repudiation of Falstaff comes only at the end of the play's sequel, Henry IV, Part 2, so that this first script ends on a more positive note, with England's harmony temporarily restored.

Henry IV, Part 1, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1991
Henry IV, Part 1, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1991
Henry VI, Part 1, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1977
King Henry IV, Part 1, A.E. George as King Henry IV, 19th Century
Henry IV, Part 1, David Gwillim as Henry, Prince of Wales, BBC, 1979
Henry IV, Ralph Richardson as Falstaff, Old Vic, 1945
Henry IV, Part 1, Maurice Evans as Falstaff, 1939
Henry IV, Part 1, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, 2005
Henry IV, Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Falstaff
King Henry IV, Part I, His Majesty's Theatre, 1914
Essay Title Author
King Henry V Hugh Richmond

Alexander, Peter, ed. Henry IV, Part 1. London: BBC, 1979.

Alkire, Nancy L. "Babes in Armor: Staging a Shakespeare History with a Feminist Subtext, or Robert Behrens' Gender Reversals for 1 Henry IV." On-Stage Studies 15 (1992): 66-75.

Altman, Joel B. "Henry IV, California Shakespeare Festival." Shakespeare Bulletin 23 (2005): 195-198.

Berenson, Paul. Review of Henry IV Part 1, directed by Michael Donald Edwards, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 1998.

Collins, David G. "A Prince Hal for Our Times: Darkness and the Search for Self in Stratford, Ontario (1979)." Publications of the Missouri Philological Association 11 (1986): 11-18.

Gorman, Bill. Review of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Shakespeare Repertory Theatre, Chicago, 2001. Centerstage, May 5, 2001.

Hapgood, Robert. "Chimes at Midnight From Stage to Screen: The Art of Adaptation." Shakespeare Survey 39 (1987): 39-52.

Hoffman, Dean A. "'Bypaths and Indirect Crooked Ways': Mise-en-Scene in Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight." Shakespeare Bulletin 23 (2005): 87-112.

Howlett, Kathy M. "Utopian Revisioning of Falstaff 's Tavern World: Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho." In The Reel Shakespeare: Alternative Cinema and Theory, edited by Lisa S. Starks and Courtney Lehmann,165-88. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 2002.

Kastan, David Scott, ed. Henry IV, Part 1. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2002.

Keynes, Laura. Review of Henry IV, Part 1, directed by Nicholas Hytner, National Theatre, London, 2005. TLS 100, 2005.

Lyons, Bridget Gellert, ed. Chimes at Midnight. Dir. Orson Welles. Rutgers University Press, 1988.

McMillin, Scott. Henry IV, Part One. Shakespeare in Performance. Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press, 1991.

Murray, Matthew. Review of Henry IV, adapted by Dakin Matthews, Lincoln Center, 2003. Talkin' Broadway, November 20, 2003.

Poole, Kristen. "Saints Alive! Falstaff, Martin Marprelate, and the Staging of Puritanism." Shakespeare Quarterly 46 (1995): 47-75.

Potter, Lois. "The Second Tetralogy: Performance as Interpretation." In A Companion to Shakespeare's Works, Volume II: The Histories, edited by Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Richmond, Hugh M. "Henry IV, Part 1." In Shakespeare's Political Plays, 141-58. New York: Random House, 1967.

Shaw, John. "The Staging of Parody and Parallels in 1 Henry IV." Shakespeare Survey 20 (1967): 61-73.

Sterritt, David. "Postmodern 'Henry IV.'" Review of Henry IV, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, New York Shakespeare Festival, 1991. Christian Science Monitor, August 3, 1991.

Symons, Jim. "Roughing Up the Histories: Production Approaches to Richard III and Henry IV, Part One." On-Stage Studies 10 (1987): 84-96.

Henry IV at Talkin' Broadway.

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