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Henry Vi, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare 5

Context 5

Shakespeare’s History Plays: Sources and Contexts 6

Summary 8

Characters 10

King Henry IV 10

Prince Harry 10

Hotspur 10

Sir John Falstaff 11

Earl of Westmoreland 11

Lord John of Lancaster 11

Sir Walter Blunt 11

Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester 11

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland 11

Edmund Mortimer, called the Earl of March 11

Owain Glyndwr 11

Archibald, Earl of Douglas 12

Sir Richard Vernon 12

The Archbishop of York 12

Ned Poins, Bardolph, and Peto 12

Gadshill 12

Mistress Quickly 12

Themes and Symbols 13

Themes 13

The Nature of Honor 13

The Legitimacy of Rulership 13

High and Low Language 14

Symbols 15

Representative Characters 15

The Sun 15

Important Quotations Explained 16

1. 16

2. 17

3. 18

4. 19

5. 20

Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare


The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further. In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Around 1590 he left his family behind and travelled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical acclaim quickly followed, and Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part-owner of the Globe Theatre. His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558–1603) and James I (ruled 1603–1625), and he was a favourite of both monarchs. Indeed, James granted Shakespeare’s company the greatest possible compliment by bestowing upon its members the title of King’s Men.

Wealthy and renowned, Shakespeare retired to Stratford and died in 1616 at the age of fifty-two. At the time of Shakespeare’s death, literary luminaries such as Ben Jonson hailed his works as timeless. Shakespeare’s works were collected and printed in vario...

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