Free Henry IV Essays: The Reign of a Tyrant

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Henry IV:  The Reign of a Tyrant     

 

Although the blame for the fall of Richard II and the rise of Henry IV can be shared by them both, Henry IV having established the precedence of usurpation finds England wracked with civil strife after only one year on the throne. Henry IV discovers the impossible situation of a monarch who in making any choice or decision must face the opposition of those who disagree with him and support the other side of the issue.

            Henry IV has desired to lead a Crusade perhaps as penance for the death of Richard. However, civil problems prevent his actions at every turn. The Percys with young Hotspur's recent victory against the Scots find themselves with many nobles among the prisoners. They refuse to surrender these prisoners to Henry IV but elect to use them for their own purposes. Amongst themselves the Percys reveal their desire to be free of Henry and their sorrow that they ever turned from Richard. One of their relatives should be king instead of Henry since Richard II had named Mortimer as his heir. All their discontent, ambition to have a king in their family, and doubts about Henry IV's right to be king combine to bring them to a point of uniting the various centers of rebellion against Henry IV into one united effort to usurp the throne and restore it to Mortimer, Richard's heir.

            Perhaps even more distressing for Henry IV is the behavior of Prince Hal. Henry desires a son who will mirror all his strengths. Instead he finds in Hal a mirror of his weaknesses. Hal is consorting with thieves learning to steal even as his father stole a crown. Just as his father courted the affections of the common people before he became king, Hal spends his time with common people and the low pursuits of drinking, whoring, and stealing.

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Henry is made desolate by his son's behavior but finds himself helpless to curb the prince's action.

            Ultimately, Act I of 1 Henry IV reveals the king as a tired man drained and torn by the internal strife raging throughout his land and his home as exemplified in the plot of usurpation by the Percys and Hal's wayward behavior.

 


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