The Dramatic and Poetic Impact of "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" in "King Henry IV"

The Dramatic and Poetic Impact of "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" in "King Henry IV"

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The King is troubled by the pressures of ruling a kingdom; `uneasy lies the head that wears a crown'. Many speculate that this is because he doesn't have divine right kingship, at the time Kings believed that their power was installed in them by God. Henry being a usurper does not having this belief because of the manner in which he took the crown.

This uncertainty and doubt in which the King speaks would relate to characteristics of a weak leader. `One might read the book of fate' indicating to us that if he knew what may happen then he would do things differently. For instance that once again Northumberland won't turn up to battle and instead flee for protection in Scotland. The moment King Henry refers to the book he acknowledges that there is a greater power than himself. The kingdom that he rules using a `body upon rank diseases grow' as a metaphor to describe the state of it. It is a country in which he expects to see a `revolution of the times'.

We also notice that it is not until Act III almost three quarters that now reserved King makes the first of two lengthy speeches. This is in sharp contrast to the first part of the play were he dominates the entire play. We must conclude from this that is weary and is not confident is his reign.

Within the passage we also learn a great deal of history of the relationship between the families and great nobilities of England. This recounting of historic events marks an acceleration of time. As well a true reflection of how quickly events have happened `tis not ten years gone' that Northumberland and Richard feasted together and two years after they were at war. The King also talks of his own personal feelings `this Percy was the man nearest my soul' yet by calling him by his second name this degrades him. The King a former rebel now has one of his former allies and a man who he described having the likeness of a `brother' against him challenging for the crown. Though the King has other ideas `my cousin Bolingbroke ascends the throne', yet would he feel any safer in the throne than Henry, he may be blood line of the King but the King is a usurper.

King Henry is also fond of looking back into the past, with contextual references that relate to his age.

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Shakespeare leaves it open to the readers own digressions whether or not this is because he seeks comfort from his days a rebel before he had the pressures of leading the country. Henry also seeks some kind of sympathy when he speaks of having `no such intent' of planning to take the throne by force. The fact that this line has been put in brackets would signify that he is dismissing the line as unimportant. He `says God knows' or is this just him artificially aligning himself close to God? Due to the manner in which he took the throne.

The `brood of time' and the demise of his cousin Richard II still haunts the King. Dwelling on the dead `times deceased' in a fear that history may just repeat itself.

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