King Henry IV, Part 1
Please see the bottom of this page for helpful Henry IV resources.
Please see the bottom of each scene for extensive explanatory notes.
Next: Henry IV Part 1, List of Characters
1 Henry IV Overview (with theme analysis)
1 Henry IV Study Questions with Sample Answers
Introduction to Prince Hal
Introduction to Falstaff
Introduction to Hotspur
Introduction to Owen Glendower
1 Henry IV Play History
Shakespeare's History Plays: The Ultimate Quiz
1 Henry IV Plot Summary
1 Henry IV: Q & A
Sources for 1 Henry IV
Essay Topics for 1 Henry IV
Famous Quotations from 1 Henry IV
Shakespeare's Falstaff and the Queen
Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
Why Study Shakespeare?
Quotations About William Shakespeare
Why Shakespeare is so Important
Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels
In the Spotlight
Quote in Context
So when this loose behavior I throw off,
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes,
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly, and attract more eyes,
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
1 Henry IV (1.2)
Here Prince Hal reveals his plan to achieve popularity amongst the people he knows he will one day rule. Hal has every intention of leaving behind his life of wine and petty theft. His mischievous behaviour is merely part of a political maneuver to look as good as possible when he does finally gain power. His association with the likes of Falstaff allows him a connection to the common people that will be vital during his reign as Henry V. This passage foretells how successful Hal will be when he obtains the throne. In the words of Machiavelli: "experience shows us that in our times the rulers who have done great things are those who have set little store by keeping their word, being skillful rather in cunningly confusing men" (The Prince). Read on...