Shakespeare September- Day 4: Favourite History

This was a tough choice, and not in the ‘Which of Shakespeare’s Comedies do I find the least boring?’ way.

There are quite a few of the Histories which I like. Richard III and Richard II were both strong contenders, particularly the latter. Half because Ben Whishaw’s take on the character as perfect, and half because I’m a tad obsessed with the concept of honour/dishonour in the play.

But the one I’ve selected as my favourite is…

Henry IV Part 1


To be honest, I feel like this doesn’t need too much justification! And it has a very quick one at that.

You’ve got the comedic element in Falstaff, the beginnings of an initially unruly Henry V, and their foster father/son dynamic. And I mean, look at the language:


By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks;

Prince Hal

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.

And as if you needed any more convincing, watch the Globe’s Henry IV 1 starring Jamie Parker and Roger Allam. It is probably the best stage adaptation I have ever seen.


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