Henry IV Part 2

Henry IV Part 2 Summary and Analysis of Act 5

Scene One:

Justice Shallow, with Falstaff and Bardolph in tow, tries to run the affairs of his household. Throughout, he insists that Falstaff stay as his guest. When the others exit, Falstaff speaks of how amusing Shallow and his servants are. He shall collect material for amusing stories that he will tell Prince Hal.

Scene Two:

The Lord Chief Justice asks after the king's health, and learns that he is dead. The men worry about the future of England under Prince Hal's reign; they believe him to be the worst choice for king of all his brothers. The Lord Chief Justice is particularly fearful, since Prince Hal has little love for him. Hal enters, now King Henry V. He comforts his brothers and promises to be a good king. King Henry V then reminds the Chief Justice of the time when the lord had Hal thrown into prison. The Chief Justice stands by his decision, arguing eloquently that no son of the king can be above the law. Hal says the Justice has spoken well, and he promises that the Justice will be a valued advisor. He then addresses everyone, promising that his reign will root out the bad opinion that all have of him.

Scene Three:

Justice Shallow, Justice Silence, Bardolph, Falstaff, the Page, and Davy (Shallow's servant) make merry. They eat, drink and sing; Pistol arrives with great news. Henry IV is dead, and their friend Hal now sits on the throne. Falstaff, Pistol, Bardolph, and Justice Shallow set off to congratulate the new king. Falstaff is sure that he will now be a great counselor, and his enemy the Lord Chief Justice will receive a comeuppance.

Scene Four:

Doll Tearsheet is arrested in connection to a murder.

Scene Five:

Falstaff, Pistol, Bardolph, the Page, and Shallow kneel and wait for the king to pass by. Falstaff fusses over his clothes; he has ridden all night, but he thinks his poor appearance will show how quickly and eagerly he has come to congratulate the new king. Pistol tells Falstaff that Doll Tearsheet has been arrested. Falstaff promises that he will use his new power to help her.

Hal enters, and Falstaff greets him warmly. Hal's response is cold and brutal: "I know thee not, old man" (5.5.47). He tells Falstaff that he has cast away his former self, and all those with whom he once kept company. He banishes Falstaff, telling him he is not allowed, on pain of death, to come within ten miles of the king. He has pity of the old knight, and so he promises that some kind of position will be provided for him; he orders the Lord Chief Justice to see to it. Hal, now King Henry V, exits.

Falstaff says that Hal's behavior must be an act. Justice Shallow, who has lent Falstaff 1000 pounds, asks to be repaid now. Falstaff tells Shallow not to fear; the king only behaved so because they were out in public. He promises that the king will send for him in private. Shallow does not believe it, but he lets the matter drop. Falstaff is ready to get dinner, but the Chief Justice re-enters with Prince John and various officers. He orders Falstaff and his company to be taken to the Fleet. He tells Falstaff imperiously that he will see him later. All except Prince John and the Lord Chief Justice exit.

Prince John approves of Hal's choice; though he will give posts and advancement to his old friends, he will associate with them no longer. The Chief Justice agrees. The king has called parliament. Prince John predicts that before the year is over, King Henry V will lead the English army against France.


The speaker apologizes for the play's inadequacies, and promises that the story will continue in the next play.

Act V Analysis:

Falstaff collecting amusing stories for Hal is a painful glimpse of how ingratiating and out of touch he has become. Hal and Falstaff have barely spent any time together at all in this play, and yet he still clings to the idea that the two men are friends. The only time they've been together, Hal humiliated him cruelly. But Falstaff still dreams that Hal's reign will mean power and greatness for him.

But Scene Two makes the truth all too clear. Henry V intends to be a king of whom his father would have approved. His reconciliation with the Lord Chief Justice foreshadows disaster for Falstaff and his crowd. The theme of expectation is important. Note that expectation is different for the audience and for the characters of the play. 2 Henry IV makes use of dramatic irony, centered on this idea of expectation. The audience knows that Hal's reign will mean the end of his old friendships. He will betray Falstaff and embrace the Lord Chief Justice, and he will reign as a great king. But all of the characters, with the exception of Warwick, expect Hal to rule as he has lived.

The last scene between Henry V and Falstaff is the true climax of the play. It is the final break between Hal and his old ways. Like Hal's scene with his father, this scene is tied to theme of age and time and the theme of fathers and sons. Falstaff, in denial, cannot bring himself to believe that the prince's rejection of him is sincere. He clings to the hope that Hal is only putting on a public face. Falstaff greets the king with all the warmth of a proud father, but Hal's tutelage with Falstaff is over. Hal, having lost one father and gotten what he needed out of the other, has moved on. In 5.2, Shakespeare continues to play on the idea of fathers when Hal asks the Lord Chief Justice to act as father to Hal. Hal is now Henry V; time has separated him from his old mentor. Time, having consumed Henry IV's life, now destroys Falstaff's friendship with Hal.