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1 King Henry IV - Synopsis 
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Post 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Here's a brief synopsis of 1 Henry IV from the Royal Shakespeare Company . . .

Part I

The second play in Shakespeare's series of histories covering the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. Shakespeare muses on the consequences of actions, the role of princes and the realities of wielding power.

(You can also listen to the Part I synopsis or download it as an audio file)

Richard is dead and Henry Bolingbroke is now King Henry IV. The king is not enjoying his reign. He feels guilty about the removal of Richard and it troubles his conscience. He'd like to go to the Holy Land on crusade to pay penance but there are troubles much nearer to home that need his attention.

Rebellion is brewing
His reign is threatened by growing opposition from some of the very nobles who helped him to the throne – especially the Percy Family. Wales and Scotland are threatening rebellion as King Richard's nominated heir, Edmund Mortimer looms large on the horizon.

King Henry's suspicious, rude and perhaps arrogant treatment of Henry Percy (the Earl of Northumberland's son who is known as 'Hotspur' because of his courage and impetuous nature) only makes matters worse.

Prince Hal plays the fool
King Henry's own heir – his son, Prince Henry (also known as Harry and Hal) - is living a dissolute life, frequenting the taverns of Eastcheap in the company of Sir John Falstaff and other disreputable characters.

Hal likes Falstaff but also enjoys insulting and tricking him. He goes so far as to stage a robbery of Falstaff and his fellows just for the sport of listening to Falstaff recount the exaggerated story afterwards.

Hal knows he's not being particularly 'princely' but he intends to improve his behaviour when the right moment comes.

Open rebellion
Opposition to the king becomes open rebellion, led by Hotspur (Henry Percy) who now supports the claim to the throne of Edmund Mortimer (his brother-in-law).

Father and son are reunited
The rebellion brings Hal back to his father's side – the moment for behaving more like a prince has come. Falstaff musters a ragged troop of soldiers. Will the king's army defeat the rebels at the battle of Shrewsbury? And will Falstaff live to die another day?

http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/henry-iv/synopsis.aspx


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Here's a more detailed breakdown of 1 Henry IV covering each act in the play . . .

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plots/1kh4ps.html

And, finally, I scanned in the introduction from The Necessary Shakespeare, edited by David Bevington. I think Bevington's intros are really worth the time. It's only a few pages long. Incidentally, 1 Henry IV is the only play from that tetralogy included in Bevington's book, so the only one deemed "necessary.".

The scan (PDF) is an image, not actually text. But it should be pretty readable.

http://www.wordcentrist.net/bevington_intro.pdf


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Thank you for posting these links Geo. The scanned PDF reads great.



Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:26 pm
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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Suzanne wrote:
Thank you for posting these links Geo. The scanned PDF reads great.


Good to know!


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
I'm definitely going to participate.


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Geo -- I read over the pdf, I'm sure it will help me as I read Henry IV. I didn't have a Shakespeare collection handy so I downloaded the Oxford Shakespeare, Complete Works to my kindle and I will crack open Henry tonight.



Last edited by giselle on Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
This synopsis reads like a Hollywood plot. Maybe a HBO plot. (Please bear with me - it's a good thing.) When I first read Hemingway, which was maybe only ten years ago, I thought how unoriginal, and why is this fellow so great. Then the penny dropped. This was my first "in the face" coming to terms with just how great authors can influence story telling over the ensuing decades. Of course, Hemingway was a post modernist original, and it was he who had set the writing scene for all the writers who followed him. If you read any modern book, especially in the American cannon, or in the the American bestseller list, you read something of Hemingway in it. Hemingway only seemed unoriginal to me at the time because without having read his work beforehand, I had read his "influence" in almost every book I'd read since I was a teenager.

So how does this relate to the Henry IV synopsis?

Shakespeare didn't just influence story telling for ensuing decades, but for ensuing centuries. For me to say that the synopsis that geo introduced to the forum reads like a Hollywood plot is for me to say that Shakespeare's pulling power is huge. Absent of all the so called "high" culture that surrounds Shakespeare nowadays (it wasn't always like this - high culture didn't always attach itself to his name), Shakespeare's plays, as evidenced by this synopsis, are all about, or almost all about, exciting, fun, laughter and tears, all rolled into one, feel good story telling. Or if not "feel good" story telling then at least they are indicative of a "good feel" for story telling.



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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
geo wrote:
introduction from The Necessary Shakespeare, edited by David Bevington. I think Bevington's intros are really worth the time. It's only a few pages long. Incidentally, 1 Henry IV is the only play from that tetralogy included in Bevington's book, so the only one deemed "necessary.".

The scan (PDF) is an image, not actually text. But it should be pretty readable.

http://www.wordcentrist.net/bevington_intro.pdf


This is superb. It shows Shakespeare as the supreme master of characterisation and human insight, using a few deft lines to sketch personalities whose depth and resonance have universal and timeless lessons and relevance.

The ambiguity of Hal's character is among the most interesting points in Bevington, illustrating the differing possible takes on the process of coming of age.


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Just wanted to drop in and say I've been enjoying reading the comments here. I'll have a response or two when I get back home tomorrow. (I've been away all week with limited access to the internet.)


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
I saw the play a few years ago at the Blackfriars' Theatre in Staunton, VA, a recreation of the first stage Shakespeare's company used. From an entertainment standpoint, of course the play is all Falstaff, and we saw a good actor playing the part. He is the prototypical hard act to follow, which made the "serious stuff" in the play of somewhat secondary interest.



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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
JJ_Co wrote:
This synopsis reads like a Hollywood plot.


Hi JJ_Co. These plays were written to be performed as entertainment for a wide audience, from the upper middle class to the lower middle class. Much like movies are today. Here's the title page for the first quarto of 1 Henry IV (1598), which actually resembles a movie poster. The quartos, however, were printed versions of the play for sale, so apparently Shakespeare's fans also read the plays as we are doing now.

Image\

Shakespeare's audience would have been well familiar with the important historical events which 1 Henry IV was based on. I'm guessing historical accuracy wasn't a big concern. Shakespeare made many changes from his historical sources for dramatic purposes. The title page is hyped up, promising historical drama and intrigue as well as "humorous conceits of Sir John Falstaff." A good time is to be had by all.


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
DWill wrote:
I saw the play a few years ago at the Blackfriars' Theatre in Staunton, VA, a recreation of the first stage Shakespeare's company used. From an entertainment standpoint, of course the play is all Falstaff, and we saw a good actor playing the part. He is the prototypical hard act to follow, which made the "serious stuff" in the play of somewhat secondary interest.


Hey, DWill, hope you can participate in this discussion.

My Arden Shakespeare version of the play includes a lengthy introduction by David Scott Kastan, who says that that there are many ways to interpret the play, and that playing up Falstaffs' comedic role is a relatively recent trend. There are actually four equal strands in the play—involving King Henry IV, Prince Hal, Hotspur and Falstaff. One of the play's "brilliant prismatic achievements," according to Kastan, is the equal sharing of these four distinct plot lines. Kastan seems to suggest that, historically, this play is more of a political drama than as a vehicle for Falstaff. Shakespeare's main purpose for Falstaff was as a foil for Prince Hal, and there's an underlying context about father and son relationships as well

"Indeed, 1 Henry IV is a play no less about relationships than about character:about subjects and rulers, fathers and sons, nephews and uncles, wives and husbands, and about friends. Hal's transformation from the truant prince of the tavern scenes to the chivalric hero on the battlefield at Shrewsbury is, no doubt, the central trajectory that the play traces, but 1 Henry IV i concerned as much with the complex social formation of England as it is with the complex moral formation of the king who will run day rule over it as Henry V."

It will be interesting to see one of the movie versions of this play to see how these various strands play out.

That's cool that you've already seen this play. Have you seen other Shakespeare plays?


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
geo wrote:
That's cool that you've already seen this play. Have you seen other Shakespeare plays?

Hi geo, hope you're doing well. I've seen just a few performances and have watched several films of the plays, but since getting out of school ages ago really haven't paid the attention to Elizabethan drama that I'd like to have. Speaking of that subject, one of the best classes I had at Colo. State was called "Non-Shakespearean Elizabethan Drama." We read plays by Webster and Tourner, Marlowe, Dekker, Fletcher, Kyd, and probably a couple of others. Some of it was over my head at the time, but it was a good stretch. The point of the course was to show that, although Shakespeare is the tallest mountain of the age, there were other peaks as well. The literary environment was amazingly rich.

I'll keep your invitation in mind. I've been onto a French language thing lately and am trying to focus on it. I always run the danger of spreading myself too thin.

After all these years of living 60 miles from DC, my wife and I finally made it to the Folger Shakespeare Museum a few weeks ago. We didn't see a play, just had an interesting tour of the place. A memorable factoid: the most valuable Shakespeare manuscript is a text of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's most violent play by far. Only one manuscript is known to exist.



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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Everything downloaded and will start tonight. Looking forward


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Post Re: 1 King Henry IV - Synopsis
Reading a chronology of William Shakespeare I see that he and Cervantes died about the same time.
Naturally I wondered if they new of each other or of each others work.

Its interesting that these two were worlds apart but yet producing very similar ideas in their work.

I deleted a link to an article speculating on these two having known each other.



Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:24 pm
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