King Henry IV, Part I
‘Henry IV, Part I shows a world shaken by rebellion.’
In his reimagining of the turbulent realm of Henry IV, Shakespeare offers up a world where revolt runs rampant and takes several forms. In Henry IV, Part I several stories of rebellion run parallel. Immediately Shakespeare reveals an underlying sense of civil rebellion through Henry’s evident guilt from usurping the throne, as well as mother England spilling her ‘own children’s blood’. Shakespeare exposes a compounding level of rebellion on a personal level as the king condemns his ‘dishonour[able]’ and ‘riot[ous]’ son. The emphasis Shakespeare gives towards this rebellion, both on civil and personal levels, in the very first scene illustrates its importance and presence throughout the play, which is indeed shaken by corruption, disobedience and turmoil.
As the king stresses the need for England’s ‘children’ to ‘march’ as one, no longer being ‘opposed’ to ‘allies’, images of civil rebellion are immediately evident. The negative and compounding nature of the King’s descriptions highlight the ferocity of the country’s current struggle. Conflict is immediately clear as the King alludes to attacks from the Welsh and the Scots, adding layers of chaos and disorder from the very beginning. The immediate and complex nature of the conflict and mutiny foreshadow rebellion throughout the whole play. Shakespeare introduces example after example of turmoil and turbulence for the King to immediately reveal the overwhelming situation he is facing – men of Wales ready to ‘fight’, disobedience from his supposed allies, the King faces rebellion and struggle in all directions. As Hotspur refuses to ‘send’ the King his ‘gallant prize’ of prisoners, a further level of rebellion is revealed unless the King shall ‘ransom’ Mortimer. Young Percy’s exploitation for Mortimer’s ransom reveals a level of disrespect towards the King, which is compounded further due to his language when speaking with...