Henry IV, Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

Act V, scenes iii–v

When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound,
But now two paces of the vilest earth
Is room enough.
         (V.iv.88–91)

No matter how great one’s life, one’s honor can never outlast one’s life, Harry states, since death reduces one to so little.

Henry’s division of his forces at the very end of the final scene, as he announces his plan to send John and Westmoreland up to fight Northumberland and his own intent to take Harry to Wales to put down Glyndwr, leaves the door wide open for the play’s sequel, 2 Henry IV, in which these dangling plot threads are resolved. In many ways, 1 Henry IV is a play without a conclusion. Critics often refer to the two Henry IV plays as a single play with ten acts; under that interpretation, the real play is now only half over.


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