I know you all, and will awhile uphold 
The unyoked humor 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 wondered at 
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists 
Of vapors that did seem to strangle him. 
(Act 1, scene 2, lines 202–210)

In his soliloquy, delivered at the end of act 1, scene 2, Prince Harry reveals his elaborate deception of his father and the royal court. His idling with the Boar’s Head company is all an act, and when the need arises, he will cast off the act and reveal his true noble nature. Harry explains that he “will a while uphold / The unyoked humour of your idleness,” but that, just as the sun permits itself to be covered by clouds so that the people who miss its light will be all the happier when it reappears, he too will eventually emerge from the “clouds” of his “idleness.” Therefore, Harry concludes that by earning the people’s disapproval with his current behavior, he sets himself up to appear all the more glorious when he finally decides to earn their approval, since they will not take his high merit for granted. This quote is extremely important to the play, because it establishes the dramatic irony of Harry’s character, known to no one but the audience and the prince himself. It also exposes the complexities and ambiguities of Harry’s mind, showing an apparently virtuous young man who is, in reality, a master of political theater.

I will redeem all this on Percy’s head, 
And, in the closing of some glorious day, 
Be bold to tell you that I am your son, 
When I will wear a garment all of blood 
And stain my favors in a bloody mask, 
Which, washed away, shall scour my shame with it. 
And that shall be the day, whene’er it lights, 
That this same child of honor and renown, 
This gallant Hotspur, this all-praisèd knight, 
And your unthought-of Harry chance to meet.  
(Act 3, scene 2, lines 137–46)

Act 3, scene 2, marks the turning point of the play, which hinges on Prince Harry’s transformation from a lazy idler to a valiant leader-in-training. Harry addresses these words to his father, King Henry, who has summoned him to court to chastise him for his idle behavior. Echoing the soliloquy he made at the end of act 1, scene 2, Harry chooses this as his moment to “redeem” time and become the prince he had long secretly planned to become. Harry has calculated well by waiting for this moment to pledge his allegiance to his father. Now that the king is in desperate need of support, Harry can swoop in and play the role of the savior. His language of redemption subtly hints at a nascent connection to Christ, which was also present in his earlier soliloquy. Importantly, this language also reflects an ongoing motif of debt and repayment. Harry will redeem himself morally by paying his debt to the king, thereby fashioning himself a hero.

I saw young Harry with his beaver on, 
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly armed, 
Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury 
And vaulted with such ease into his seat 
As if an angel dropped down from the clouds, 
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus 
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.  
(Act 4, scene 1, lines 110–16)

Sir Richard Vernon speaks these words in the opening scene of act 4. The words are addressed to Hotspur, who has asked Vernon for news about Prince Harry. In response, Vernon offers this portrait of Harry, whom he has seen mount his horse in the full regalia of battle. Judging by his language, Vernon clearly stands in awe of this reformed Harry, whom he describes in mythic terms. Harry is “like feathered Mercury,” the Roman god of eloquence (as well as commerce). Likewise, he sits astride his horse as though he were riding Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek myth. Perhaps most significantly, Harry’s “noble horsemanship” marks him as the symbolic successor to Hotspur, who throughout the play has been celebrated for his skill as a cavalryman. It’s for this reason that Hotspur, upon hearing this fawning portrait of his rival, commands Vernon: “No more, no more! Worse than the sun in March / This praise doth nourish agues” (4.1.117–18). Harry is thus poised to challenge Hotspur before he goes on to “witch the world.”