Act II. Scene I. - Rochester. An Inn-Yard.
Early in the morning, a Chamberlain who is an informer,
informs Gadshill (the person) at an Inn, of a rich carriage
heading their way, important information for their upcoming
Act II opens to the scene of two Carriers who complain
that the Inn or hotel / motel is not as good as it once
was, since a certain Robin Ostler died (Line 12).
The First Carrier also makes a reference to the time
of day, saying that "Charles' Wain is over the
new chimney, and yet our horse not packed", this
being a celestial reference suggesting it is early morning
The First Carrier explains that a price rise in the
cost of oats ruined the man (Robin Ostler), (Line 14),
the Second Carrier saying he doubts there is a house
in all of "London road" (Line 16) with more
fleas in it (Lines 16-17).
The two Carriers now depart having finished packing
their horses to deliver produce to the London markets
(Lines 46-51), the First Carrier delivering turkeys
(Line 29) and the Second, delivering "a gammon
of bacon and two razes of ginger, to be delivered as
far as Charing-cross" (Line 26).
Gadshill now meets the two Carriers and having greeted
them, asks to borrow their lantern, referred to in the
text as a "lanthorn," (Line 38). The two Carriers
refuse, the Second Carrier saying "I'll see
thee [you] hanged first" (I'll see you hanged first
before I lend my lantern), (Line 45), before he gives
his lantern over to Gadshill.
With the Carriers now departed (Line 51), Gadshill
calls out "What, ho! chamberlain!" (Line 52)
and slowly the Chamberlain, an informer who knows Gadshill
thieving nature, appears (Lines 53-57).
The Chamberlain explains to Gadshill that what he told
him yesterday, remains fact; "a franklin [a landlord
of moderate wealth] in the wild of Kent [a part of England]
hath [has] brought three hundred marks with him in gold:"
The Chamberlain knows this from a conversation he overheard
between the franklin and one of his company (Line 60).
The Chamberlain now tells Gadshill that this franklin
and company are already awake and calling for "eggs
and butter:" (Line 66), and they will be leaving
the inn soon....
The Chamberlain now makes an off hand remark about
the "hangman;", a reference to Gadshill facing
hanging if caught for robbery (Lines 69-72).
Gadshill, however does not fear hanging (Lines 72-106)
because Gadshill is accompanied by men of higher social
standing, Gadshill arguing that it is his association
with "nobility and tranquillity," such as
Prince Hal (not mentioned by name) instead of lowly
"foot-land-rakers," that will prevent him
ever being hanged (Lines 73-91).
Act II. Scene II. - The Road by Gadshill.
Hal and Poins meet for their robbery of their friend's
robbery takings. Poins explains that he has removed
Falstaff's horse. The thieves spilt into two groups,
Poins and Hal taking the low ground. Falstaff, Gadshill,
Bardolph and Peto successfully rob the passing travelers
and are then robbed themselves by a disguised Poins
and Hal. With their horses taken, Poins and Hal will
have to wait for their friends to meet them in London;
they will have to walk there empty handed!
Prince Henry (Hal) has now meet up with Poins, learning
from him that Poins has "removed Falstaff's
horse," (Line 1), the result of which is to leave
Falstaff fretting about confused like "a gummed
velvet" (Line 3).
The horseless Falstaff now enters, Falstaff calling
for Poins who now has retreated into the darkness away
from Falstaff's view. Falstaff is not amused, shouting
"Poins! Poins, and be hanged! Poins!" (Line
5), Prince Henry telling Falstaff to calm down.
Falstaff asks Prince Hal or Henry where Poins is, Hal
agreeing to find him (Line 9).
This now leaves Falstaff alone to complain about Poins.
First Poins has removed his horse, hiding him where
Falstaff cannot find it. Falstaff makes it clear he
has little love for Poins (Lines 11-33) whilst cursing
"A plague upon't [upon it] when thieves cannot
be true one to another! [each other]" (Line 31).
Prince Henry now returns, telling Falstaff "Peace,
ye [you] fat-guts!" (Line 35), and advising Falstaff
to put "thine [your] ear close to the ground,"
in order to better hear the approach of their victims,
the "travellers" (Line 38) along their road
Falstaff now asks Hal to find and bring his horse to
him, Hal refusing and earning Falstaff's wrath
in the form of a none to serious insult (Lines 46-53).
Gadshill, (Line 54) Bardolph and Peto (Lines 56) now
arrive, Gadshill remarking that "there's money
of the king's coming down the hill; 'tis [it is] going
to the king's exchequer" (Line 60), by which
Gadshill means, the travelers are approaching, they
had better be quick and rob them...
Falstaff briefly disputes this, saying the money before
them is heading for "the king's tavern"
Prince Henry now suggests Gadshill, Falstaff, Peto
and Bardolph stop and steal from the travelers in the
narrow lane, whilst Ned Poins and the Prince will walk
or wait on lower ground. If the travelers escape the
four of them, they will run into Henry and Poins (Line
We learn from Gadshill that the travelers number roughly
"Some eight or ten" (Line 70) people and Falstaff
initially hesitates because of this, saying "'Zounds!
will they not rob us?" (Line 71) but decides to
stand fast when asked if he is a coward by Hal (Prince
Henry), (Line 72).
Poins wishes Falstaff well, and the two groups (Gadshill,
Falstaff, Peto and Bardolph and Poins and Prince Henry)
set off on their separate ways (Line 80).
The Prince now asks Poins for their disguises, the
two now exiting our view.
Meanwhile, we see several travelers making their way
along the narrow road. The thieves in unison shout,
"Stand!" (Line 89), and Falstaff's commands
that his group strike down these travelers and cut their
throats, succeeds in totally terrifying the travelers
whom are quickly robbed and tied up, our thieves now
departing from view (Lines 90-101).
The Prince with Poins now arrive, noting that the travelers
have been robbed and bound. Prince Henry also remarks
how if they can now rob the thieves and head merrily
off to London, the result would be arguments for a week,
laughter for a month "and a good jest for ever"
Poins tells Henry (Hal) to stay close, he hears the
Falstaff is jubilant, they stole the money without
incident and Falstaff now takes time to insult Henry
and especially Poins as cowards.
At this exact point, (Line 113), Prince Henry in disguise,
shouts "Your money!", Poins calling his friends
"Villains" (Lines 113-114).
A brief skirmish ensues, the Prince and Poins setting
upon or attacking the group of four who run away, Falstaff
having taken a few blows, leaving all the booty or money
The Prince and Poins head to their waiting horses,
the Prince explaining that each thief has headed his
separate way for fear of further attack, the Prince
remarking of the terrified Falstaff that "Were't
[were it] not for laughing I should pity him" (Line
They also both relish the fact that Falstaff "sweats
to death / And lards the lean earth as he walks along:"
all the way to London by foot since Poins and Prince
Henry have removed Falstaff's horse (Line 120).
Act II. Scene III. - Warkworth. A Room in the
Hotspur reads a letter confirming that a nobleman
they have approached will not join their cause against
King Henry IV, angering Hotspur. Hotspur worries that
this nobleman could betray them, revealing their plans
to King Henry. Hotspur's wife resents being neglected
by her husband...
The scene opens with Hotspur reading a letter from
a nobleman he has sought the support of against King
Henry. The letter does not read well for Hotspur who
notes the nobleman is hesitant to join him.
Hotspur notes this himself when he asks how this nobleman
could be "contented;" yet not pledge his support
for him (Lines 1-7).
The nobleman's next line further offends Hotspur
since it says "The purpose you undertake [the mission
or purpose you are about to proceed with] is dangerous;-"
Hotspur is not impressed with this remark, of course
challenging King Henry IV is dangerous, speaking back
to the Lord's letter by saying "my lord fool,
out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety"
(my foolish lord, from this dangerous course of action,
we will gain safety), (Line 12).
Hotspur continues to read the letter which tells him
"The purpose you undertake is dangerous; the friends
you have named uncertain; the time itself unsorted [undecided];
and your whole plot too light for the counterpoise of
so great an opposition" (Line 13-16).
This criticism, that Hotspur's plan is dangerous
and that his allies cannot be counted on in addition
to uncertainty over the time of the attack on King Henry,
enrages Hotspur who calls the nobleman a "shallow
cowardly hind," (Line 18).
Hotspur replies verbally to the nobleman's letter
by saying their plan is excellent, he has very good
friends that can be counted on, asking "What a
frosty-spirited rogue is this!" (Line 24) who would
criticise his plan.
Hotspur now goes on to describe the fact that the Lord
of York himself supports the plan, adding that if he
were near this nobleman, he would "brain [bash]
him with his lady's fan" (Line 26).
Hotspur wonders how this man can question the strength
of his forces when they number his father, his uncle
and himself as well as Lord Edmund Mortimer, the already
mentioned Lord of York and Owen Glendower and Douglas.
Hotspur also wonders aloud that has he not received
letters from all of them saying they will meet with
him on the ninth of next month, adding that some of
his forces are in place already (Line 31).
Now Hotspur begins to worry... What will stop this
nobleman from warning the king of his plans? (Line 35).
Soon, however, Hotspur calms down, throwing care to
the wind by saying:
"Hang him! [The nobleman] let him tell the king;
we are prepared. I will set forth to-night [head off
tonight] " (Line 40).
Lady Percy now enters (Line 41); Hotspur telling his
Kate that he must leave her within two hours (Line 41).
Lady Percy (Kate) is extremely worried for her husband,
and asks him why he is alone, and "For what offence
have I this fortnight been / A banish'd [banished]
woman from my Harry's bed?" (Line 44).
Lady Percy wants to know why she is being denied her
husband's stomach, pleasure and his golden sleep
and so often is left alone, neglected (Line 45).
She tells Hotspur she has heard rumors of "iron
wars," (Line 53), wondering if her husband is somehow
involved (Lines 52-62).
Lady Percy is certain "Some heavy [serious] business
hath [has] my lord in hand," concluding that "I
must know it, else he [Hotspur] loves me not" (Line
Hotspur and Lady Percy now speak, Lady Percy trying
in vain to learn what's really going on (Lines 78-88).
She suspects her brother Mortimer has something to do
with it (Line 85) but Hotspur avoids answering her questions,
telling his wife that he trusts her and that where he
is going, Lady Percy will soon follow, tomorrow (Line
Hotspur now asks his wife if this news will "content"
or satisfy her, Lady Percy replying "It must, of
force" (it must, by force since I have no other
choice), (Line 123).
Act II. Scene IV. - Eastcheap. A Room in the
Boar's Head Tavern.
Prince Hal: "I am not yet of Percy's mind,
the Hotspur of the North; he that kills me some six
or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands,
and says to his wife, 'Fie upon this quiet life! I want
Hal and Poins are at the Boar's Head Tavern waiting
for their luckless friends Falstaff, Gadshill, Bardolph
and Peto to arrive and looking forward to laughing at
Falstaff's lies as to how they allowed themselves
to be robbed. In the meanwhile, Poins and Hal give inn
servant Francis the run around and Hal reveals his disdain
of royal title, displaying a common touch.
Tellingly, Hal reveals his envy of Hotspur, suggesting
he wishes he was more like him... Falstaff and friends
arrive, Falstaff being exposed as a liar to much amusement.
Falstaff argues that he knew Hal was robbing him and
thus allowed himself to be robbed.
Hal learns that Owen Glendower, his son in law Mortimer,
Old Northumberland, his son Hotspur and "that sprightly
Scot of Scots, Douglas," have turned against King
Henry (The Percy revolt / rebellion). Falstaff is wanted
for a robbery. Hal decides to pay back Falstaff's
robbery victims and to have Falstaff lead troops against
The scene opens with Poins and Prince Henry (Hal) speaking
at the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap. Poins asks
Hal where he has been, learning that Prince Henry (Hal)
has been making friends with the locals whom he describes
as "three or four loggerheads amongst three or
four score hogsheads" (Line 4).
Henry in particular, is proud of the fact that he has
been named a "sworn brother" (Line 6) and
can call three of the locals by their "christen
names," (first names) which are "Tom, Dick
and Francis" (Line 6), perhaps suggesting that
Prince Henry has the common touch or an ability to understand
and speak to his people.
Prince Henry explains further how proud he is to be
accepted not as the Prince of Wales but rather as "the
king of courtesy;" (Line 7) and not a "proud
Jack," (Line 8) like Falstaff, but rather a "Corinthian,
a lad of mettle, a good boy,-" (Line 8), this telling
us a great deal about how Prince Henry wants to be respected;
not by his position as Prince of Wales but by his own
After finishing his speech on how the good men of Eastcheap
respect him, (Lines 4-37) Prince Henry speaks to Francis,
one of the servants at the Boar's Head Tavern.
After speaking to Francis for a while (again displaying
his common touch for the people of his land), the Prince
with Poins' help play a game on the hapless Francis
by calling for him repeatedly.
This would not normally be a problem except that both
are at different locations in the tavern and so Francis
is run ragged to and from Poins and Henry and vice versa
each time one of them calls him, always answering his
masters with the line "anon [immediately], anon,
This charade finally ends when both Poins and Henry
calls out Francis' name, the poor servant not knowing
whom to go to, since he wishes to please them both (Lines
The arrival of Falstaff and company is now announced
by Vintner (Lines 91-97), Prince Henry telling Vintner
to let them wait by the door for a little while before
letting them in (Line 97).
Poins returns and Henry and Poins agree that soon they
will both be "As merry as crickets," (Line
101) because soon they will hear Falstaff's attempts
to lie his way out of being robbed by them.
Francis now returns, holding a wineglass and saying
"Anon, anon, sir" clearly fatigued from his
earlier running (Line 111). This naturally causes Henry
to remark how erratic his behavior is. We of course
know better, it is Poins' and Henry's relentless teasing
that has driven the poor Poins to exhaustion.
The Prince describes Francis in some detail (Lines
112-127), remarking that his "industry is up-stairs
and downstairs;" (Line 113).
Significantly, Prince Henry now remarks that "I
am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the
North; he that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots
at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife,
'Fie upon this quiet life! I want work'" (Line
This quote is important for several reasons...
First it reminds us of the comparison made between
Henry and Hotspur by King Henry IV earlier; Hotspur
is brave, Prince Henry is squandering his life. We can
also sense that this line is no accident since it foreshadows
the fact that these two men's destinies are linked.
They will clash by the end of this play, determining
Secondly the quote highlights Prince Henry's own
grasp on who he is (remember Act I, Scene II, Lines
217-239?) and perhaps what he would prefer to be.
Finally the quote is a useful insight into the way
Shakespeare portrays his characters to us. Rather than
just rely on Prince Henry's soliloquies to hear
Henry's own thoughts, Shakespeare uses verbal slips
Today when a person lets out a remark that reveals
their inner thoughts, we call it a "Freudian
slip" after the famous and influential psychologist
Sigmund Freud who pioneered the idea of the subconscious
and subconscious thought (underlying thought).
Thus Shakespeare's uses the Henry's own words
to convey his thoughts about Hotspur and this quote
shows how Shakespeare uses a character's own dialogue
to convey thought and not just by use of soliloquies
Returning to the play, Falstaff, Gadshill, Bardolph,
Peto and Francis enter (Line 128), Falstaff calling
out "A plague of all cowards," (Line 134),
which is his way of complaining about all the cowardice
he sees around him.
Nonetheless, Falstaff still finds time to ask for
a cup of sack (Line 130) and comments that there are
only three decent men in all of England and one of them
(Falstaff) "is fat and grows old:" (Line 146).
The Prince and Falstaff now exchange less than serious
insults (Lines 152-176) at which point, Prince Henry
innocently asks Falstaff, "What's the matter?"
We learn from Falstaff that he did not successfully
rob the travelers, the Prince asking where the money
Falstaff now explains to the Prince the truth or rather
his version of it.
Falstaff explains the money his gang stole was stolen
from him, first by a hundred men (Line 183) but each
time the Prince questions him, Falstaff and Gadshill
drop the figure to a dozen (Line 196) then upwards to
sixteen (Line 197), then six or seven (Line 204) and
then fifty (Line 208).
At this point, Falstaff stretches the truth even further
by explaining that he is certain he killed two of the
thieves who were wearing "buckram suits" (Henry
and Poins of course), (Line 216), Falstaff again changing
the number of thieves to four men in buckram suits (Line
221) then seven (Line 228) and then nine (Line 240).
The Prince is enjoying all this, remarking of Falstaff's
latest change of figures, "O monstrous! eleven
buckram men grown out of two" (the original number
of buckram suits), (Line 248).
Prince Henry now tells Falstaff that he is lying (Line
253), Prince Henry telling Falstaff that he and Poins
were the real thieves and asking Falstaff how he could
possibly redeem himself from the shame of running away
from two men when Falstaff's group numbered four
and from his terrible lying (Lines 283-296).
Amazingly, Falstaff does redeem himself by saying he
was only a coward because "instinct;" told
him that one of thieves was Prince Henry or the successor
to the throne (Lines 296-317).
Falstaff could not kill the future King of England
now could he? Thus Falstaff and Prince Henry put the
issue to bed (forget the issue) and Mistress Quickly
announces a nobleman has news for the Prince.
Falstaff on Henry's request leaves to "send
him [the nobleman] packing" (Line 331) giving Henry
the opportunity to tease Bardolph and Peto for running
away because of "instinct," (Line 333-335).
Peto and Bardolph now sheepishly explain that Falstaff
pushed them into backing up his story.
A Bard now points the Prince in the direction of some
meteors (shooting stars), asking the Prince what it
could mean. The Prince answers "Hot livers and
cold purses" (Line 360).
Falstaff now returns from dismissing the nobleman,
telling Prince Henry that "There's villanous
news abroad:" (there's trouble abroad), (Line 370)
and that Prince Henry must go to his father's court
Falstaff explains to Henry, that Percy, "That
same mad fellow of the north," (Line 378), Owen
Glendower, his son in law Mortimer, Old Northumberland
and "that sprightly Scot of Scots, Douglas,"
(Line 384) have turned against King Henry IV (The Percy
Falstaff describes the effect of all this by saying
King Henry's beard has turned white at this news
and that land is now very cheap (because of the threat
of civil war), (Line 399-400).
Hal or Henry appears quite unaffected by all this,
so much so that Falstaff asks Hal "art [are] thou
[you] not horribly afeard [afraid]?" since as heir
apparent (successor to the throne), Henry can count
on Douglas, Percy (Hotspur) and Glendower as his enemies
Prince Henry says "Not a whit [not a bit], i'
faith [in faith]; I lack some of thy [your] instinct"
Falstaff and Henry now practice Henry's responses
to his father tomorrow, Falstaff playing King Henry
IV (Lines 414-535).
Bardolph now interrupts, bringing news that a sheriff
"with a most monstrous watch is at the door"
of the tavern (Line 537).
Falstaff hides at Henry's request behind an arras
(a curtain forming an enclosure or wall) whilst the
rest are told to hide upstairs. Prince Henry and Peto
now face the sheriff and his Carrier who are looking
for several men one of which is described as being "As
fat as butter" (Falstaff) (Line 568).
Prince Harry convinces the Sheriff and Carrier that
not only is the fat man not at the tavern, but that
he has employed Falstaff and will answer personally
for any crimes, Falstaff may have committed (Lines 569-575).
The Sheriff informs Henry that two gentleman have lost
"three hundred marks" (Line 577), the Prince
agreeing that this is a crime Falstaff (not named) would
be answerable for if he did it.
The Sheriff and Carrier now leave, Henry and Peto finding
that Falstaff has fallen asleep behind the arras (Line
Henry orders Peto to search Falstaff's pockets
(Line 587), finding only a bill for food and a great
deal of sack.
Henry now has an idea... He will give Falstaff a company
of men to lead against the Percy rebels and decides
that the money they stole will be returned "with
advantage" (with more), (Line 607) to the original
owners. Henry also announces that he will go to his
father's court tomorrow.