Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 11, 2023
December 4, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
See discount terms and conditions.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
Henry IV, Part 1 explores many different sides of a few major themes. Its primary technique for this multifaceted exploration is one of simple contrast. The differences between Harry and Hotspur make a statement on different perceptions of honor, just as the differences between the Boar’s Head Tavern and the royal palace make a statement on the breadth of England’s class differences. In utilizing contrast as a major thematic device, the play creates a motif of doubles, in which characters, actions, and scenes are often repeated in varied form throughout the play. For instance, Falstaff and the king act as doubles in that both are father figures for Harry. Harry and Hotspur act as doubles in that both are potential successors to Henry IV. Falstaff’s comical robbery in Act 2, Scene 2 serves as a kind of lower-class double to the nobles’ Battle of Shrewsbury, exploring the consequences of rebellion against the law.
Read more about the motif of doubles in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations.
As befits the play’s general multiplicity of ideas, Shakespeare is preoccupied throughout much of Henry IV, Part 1 with the contrasts and relationships of the different cultures native to the British Isles and united under the rule of the king. Accents, folk traditions, and geographies are discussed and analyzed, particularly through the use of Welsh characters such as Glyndˆwr and Scottish characters such as the Douglas. Shakespeare also rehearses the various stereotypes surrounding each character type, portraying Glyndˆwr as an ominous magician and the Douglas as a hotheaded warrior.
A strong current of magic runs throughout the play, which is primarily a result of the inclusion of the wizardly Glyndˆwr. Magic has very little to do with the plot, but it is discussed by different characters with uncommon frequency throughout the play. As with the subject of honor, a character’s opinion about the existence of magic tends to say more about the character than it does about the subject itself. The pragmatic and overconfident Hotspur, for instance, expresses contempt for belief in the black arts, repeatedly mocking Glyndˆwr for claiming to have magical powers. The sensuous and narcissistic Glyndˆwr, by contrast, seems to give full credence to the idea of magic and to the idea that he is a magician—credence that says more about Glyndˆwr’s own propensity for self-aggrandizement than about the reality of magic itself.
Read more about Shakespeare’s use of magic in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Henry IV, Part 1!