Reid English's Character Study
King Henry V
King Henry V

Royal Family

King Henry: He wants to go to the Holy City to prove what a honorable king he is, but there are a few hurdles he faces(Act 1, scene1). One of his problems is that Hotspur has taken the prisoners, so he demands that Hotspur release them; but Hotspur will only do so if the King decides to ransom Mortimer. Determined not to do so, King Henry exits the scene, leaving behind Hotspur, who is agitated. In the beginning of the play, it is evident that Henry's relationship with his son is rather negative. However, after a serious one-to-one conversation, Prince Hal realizes that he needs to reevaluate his life and take a more responsible approach. In the end of the book the ungrateful kings life is even saved by his own son who he had given up on earlier. A rebellion is mounting up against him in the book because they are unhappy with the way he has been ruling. They grieve about how he killed the previous king Richard ll after he had already taken over the thrown, and how he raised taxes on everyone in his kingdom. Also he allowed his kinsman Mortimer-who by rights ought to be the king- to be imprisoned in Wales and remain there without ransom. Also by breaking promise after promise and committing crime after crime as well as forgetting those who helped and supported him rising to power in the fist place, he has made some very angry enemies.

Prince H
Prince Hal
al: He is the son of King Henry IV. He is the Prince of Wales, but he spends most of his time fooling around and at the pub with Falstaff. Though he spent most of his youth as a rebel, he later matures and shows a serious side, which impresses his father. When he joked off in the Boar's Tavern, he represented the moon and night because he was a "night crawler". There are many places in the text where he is compared to the night. For example, Falstaff says, "we that take purses go by the moon" (1.2.14-15). When he decides to be a better person, he is often compared to the sun and told to have characteristics that one connects with the sun. Also, "son" and "sun" are VERY similar words. Prince Hal is generous and modest because he doesn't take credit for killing Hotspur because he doesn't feel like he needs to show off to other people. However, if this was the king he would have never done that because he is nothing like Hal. Hal is modest while the kings acted like he was modest to get people to be on his side.

The Boar's Tavern Crew


Falstaff: Falstaff was once a young knight who earned great respect and glory in his heydays. Now he leaves his heroic deeds behind and spends much of his time around the pub with his younger friends (one is Hal), who enjoy his humor and wild stories. He is portrayed to be a rotund gentleman that is called in the night. Falstaff also steals from unsuspecting travelers for the joy and rush of the event. He is a fun-loving guy who cares not so much for work, money, and other serious issues, but loves having a good time. He often gets strung up in the intricacies of his own lies, often it is his friend Prince Hal that points out his elaborate tales, but Falstaff is always quick with his witty remarks, comments and strange logic that often times gets him out of trouble. It his is lies and misinterpretations of the truth that make him such a unpredictable and and predictable character all at the same same time.
See "A Lesson from Falstaff" student essay.

Bardolph: He is a friend of Falstaff whose nose is always red from alcohol. He has a reputation for being a drunkard. He makes fun of Falstaff for being so fat and Falstaff makes fun of him for always being so red-nosed.


Sir Walter Blunt: He is often sent to send messages to Hal and the King, and he is one of the King's lead advisers. He symbolizes the bad relationship that King Henry and Hal have. He disguises himself as the king in battle. He is killed in battle by Douglas, who thinks he is the actual king.


Mortimer: Mortimer is a "Rebel", in the first act we are informed that he has been taken captive in battle leading the men of Herefordshire.(Henry IV Part . Shakespeare, William. 1932. Washington Square Press Drama.)

Hotspur: He along with others plan to rebel against the king. Hotspur is the son of Northumberland and the nephew of Worcester. He is also one of the main leaders in the attempted overthrow of King Henry. Hotspur is married to Lady Percy, however, he is not the best husband to her. He is the type of son that King Henry wishes he had instead of Prince Hal. Hotspur is described in the play as one who is serious in the pursuit of glory. He is the foil to Falstaff, who only cares about having a good time. Honor is more important to him than his life. He dies for honor which he considers is a worthy thing to die for.

Worcester: The uncle of Hotspur. He is one of the people that helped King Henry IV reach the throne. Worcester bails from the battle against the king;s followers when he hears that his brother, Northumberland, as known as, Hotspur's father, can't join the battle because Northumberland is sick.

Northumberland: He is Hotspur's father and brother to Worcester. He is also another person who helped King Henry IV take over the throne. Northumberland isn't able to fight in the battle against the king's forces because he is very sick.

Kate Percy: The wife of Hotspur. Podcast of Act , scene , lines ___. Listen to her plea for Hotspur's attention, affection, and trust.

This is a Character Study done by Absolute Shakespeare (Alphabetical)

Archibald, Earl of Douglas: Described as a vile Scot, he is initially introduced to us as the man Hotspur defeated at Holmedon when Hotspur was still fighting on the side of King Henry IV. Later in the play he joins the rebellion against King Henry, fighting side by side with Hotspur, the man who defeated his forces in Act I. In Act V, Douglas kills Sir Walter Blunt thinking he is King Henry and nearly kills the real King Henry until Hal drives him off. Douglas nearly kills Hal's friend Falstaff but Falstaff feigns death and Douglas moves on. When the rebels are defeated, Hal gives Douglas his freedom for his noble manner, whilst Vernon and Worcester are put to death.

Bardolph: Member of Gadshill's gang.

Earl of Westmoreland: An ally of King Henry, his forces fight on the side of King Henry IV.

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March: Hotspur's brother in law and a key figure in the rebellion. Originally fighting Glendower on King Henry's behalf, Mortimer is captured by Glendower and is one of the reasons King Henry IV again delays his religious crusade.
Mortimer arguably is also a contributing cause for the rebellion as he is the reason King Henry believes Hotspur refused to hand over prisoners to him. Along this line of thought, King Henry believed Hotspur was holding the prisoners to lever King Henry into paying Mortimer's ransom, freeing him from Glendower.
We later learn from King Henry that far from being a prisoner, Mortimer married Glendower's daughter, the daughter of his supposed enemy. This and the fact that Mortimer led a thousand men to their deaths to then join his "enemy" convinces King Henry to order the prisoners off Hotspur without paying Mortimer's ransom, angering Hotspur who later joins the rebellion against King Henry.
Like the forces of Northumberland and Glendower, Mortimer's forces are unavailable to the rebels, sealing Douglas and Hotspur's fate of being defeated...

Gadshill: Leader by name only (Falstaff is the real leader) of a group of petty thieves, Gadshill is also the location at which the Gadshill gang makes a robbery only to then be robbed by a disguised Hal and Poins.

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland: The senior Percy in the rebellion against King Henry, he like his son Hotspur, initially apologizes to King Henry for withholding prisoners to him but later joins the rebellion against King Henry. Unavailable to fight King Henry IV owing to illness, his son must fight the King Henry's forces without him...

Henry Percy surnamed Hotspur, son of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland: Described as valiant, courageous and brave, Hotspur is a source of pride for his father, Henry Percy and one of regret for King Henry IV who sees his own son Hal, as lacking compared to Hotspur. Rash and blind in the face of defeat, Hotspur blindly ignores bad news when it continuously confronts him as seen in Act V when reports suggest he will be increasingly outnumbered on the battlefield. Renowned on the battlefield for defeating the Scot Douglas whom later joins him in the rebellion against King Henry IV.
He is a very stubborn person who does not see what he is doing is not the best thing to do for example when he got all the bad news about nobody coming then stopping what he was doing he continued and now wants to go into battle.

Henry, Prince of Wales: Also known as Prince Henry, Prince Hal, or as his father King Henry IV addresses him, Harry, shows the greatest character development in this play. Originally apathetic to the affairs of state, Hal prefers instead to pass time with thieves Gadshill, Peto, Falstaff, Poins and Bardolph. However we quickly learn from Hal's first soliloquy that this is merely an act, he is acutely aware of the bad company he keeps, but prefers to show his true colors when necessary, wisely concluding that because expectations of him are so low, his accomplishments when shown will shine that much brighter.
Willing to laugh at his friend's expense, Hal is honest, reimbursing those robbed by his friends and humble, wishing to be valued by his own actions not his royal title. Nonetheless, Hal appears to enjoy the immunity his title confers, allowing him to do what others may not (steal) without consequences.
Though confident of his abilities, Hal's envy of Hotspur suggests he is not completely confident, since Hal needs to compare himself to others. When called to fight the rebellion, Hal comes of age, shedding his apathetic ways, even enlisting Falstaff his thieving friend to fight, symbolic of Hal finally accepting and assuming responsibility for himself and others.
When Hal advises his father King Henry IV, that the rebellion will not accept King Henry's pardon offer, we see Hal's insight and later on the battlefield his prowess and nobility (respecting Hotspur). Indeed it may be argued that Hal comprises two characters, one before the rebellion and one after it...

John of Launcelot: King Henry's other son, his role in the play is minor, limited chiefly to that of messenger...

King Henry IV: Rising to power by replacing King Richard II (See Shakespeare's Richard II), King Henry IV has seen recent civil strife or war take its toll on his country. He is saddened that brother had fought brother and is anxious to unite his people under an already much delayed religious crusade.
The threat of rebellion from the Percy family and the capture of Mortimer force him to again delay his plans. On a personal level, King Henry IV is saddened that his son, Prince Henry lacks what he feels are the qualities required of a future king. He worries that Hal is wasting his life and fears that those like Hotspur who earn the people's admiration are more likely to succeed him, not his own son.
As a leader, King Henry IV is cautious but disciplined. He does not let Hotspur forget his obligations to him and wisely offers the rebels generous terms for their surrender to avoid war. King Henry IV also appears to be cunning, placing many lookalikes to himself on the battlefield to confuse the rebels...

Lady Mortimer: The daughter of Glendower and wife to Mortimer, her blind adoration of her husband, due in part to a language barrier (Mortimer speaks English, Lady Mortimer, Welsh), prompts Hotspur to wish his wife Kate was similarly as adoring of him, earning Hotspur instead, several icy comments in Act III, Scene I.

Lady Percy (Kate): The wife to Hotspur and sister to Mortimer, she shows a fine wit and a resistance to blindly loving her husband as does Lady

Mistress Quickly: The Hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap, she argues with Falstaff over a bill, Falstaff says he has no money to pay. Her Tavern is a key location for dialogue between Poins and Hal and later Falstaff in Act II, Scene IV before the play's action turns to preparations and battle with the Percies in the second half of the play.

Owen Glendower:
A key figure in the rebellion along with Douglas, Hotspur, The Earl of Northumberland and the Archbishop of York, Glendower initially fought against King Henry's forces led by Mortimer. Later it is revealed that Mortimer, taken prisoner by Glendower, had joined the rebellion. Glendower's forces do not make it to the final battle since they needed two more weeks to gather dooming Douglas and Hotspur to near certain defeat against King Henry in Act V.

Peto: Member of Gadshill's gang.

Poins: One of Gadshill's gang of thieves, Poins, along with Hal, mischievously plot to steal Falstaff and company's taking from a robbery so they can both enjoy Falstaff's lies for losing his groups' loot. This succeeds and we see little more of Poins in the play.

Richard Scroop: The Archbishop of York, Scroop is also involved in the rebellion. He does not fight but in a conversation with Sir Michael his friend, reveals that he does not believe the rebellion will succeed when first the Earl of Northumberland (Henry Percy), and Owen Glendower's forces become unavailable to fight. In Act V, Scene V, we learn that his forces are gathering with those of Northumberland's for future war against King Henry (See Henry IV Part II).

Sir John Falstaff: Considered one of the most complex comic (and yet dramatic) characters of Shakespeare's plays, Falstaff has generated an enormous amount of academic discussion for what is admittedly a very peripheral character in this play.
A leader of the gang of thieves, Hal spends time with for fun, Falstaff initially is introduced to us as a petty, though witty thief with little time for the responsibilities of the world, preferring like Hal to enjoy life without accountability and consequence instead.
As Hal is forced into showing his maturity by the Percy rebellion, Falstaff too in unwittingly enlisted by Hal to lead a ragtag group of troops into battle. Forced into a position of responsibility, Falstaff shows great character development in his caring for and support for his men. When they quickly become decimated on the battlefield, Falstaff famously questions the value of honor if one dies to achieve it.
A survivor above all else, Falstaff fakes his own death to avoid a real one at the hands of Douglas to later claim that he killed the already dead Hotspur. By this action we can see Falstaff's pragmatism at work. He will not overlook gaining honor in battle if he can do so by avoiding its risks.
At the end of the play, Falstaff surprises Hal by being alive and later petitions him for a title for killing Hotspur, one Hal who knows the truth, gladly agrees to…
A complex character, Falstaff is both comic and dramatic with a propensity and a real gift in his ability to both avoid trouble and negative judgment by his unending ability to redeem himself by his words and actions. He later reappears in King Henry IV, Part II

Sir Michael: A friend to the Archbishop of York. He is the one who thinks that Hotspur's rebellion will be successful.

Sir Richard Vernon: Another rebel against King Henry IV, Vernon opposed Worcester's plan to deny Hotspur any knowledge of King Henry's generous terms for ending the rebellion in Act V, Scene II; a decision that leads to the defeat of Hotspur's forces and ultimately to Worcester's and Vernon's demise when King Henry decides to have these rebels put to death.

Sir Walter Blunt: Another loyal man to King Henry IV, Sir Walter Blunt, disguised as King Henry IV is slain by Douglas on the battlefield. Also responsible for communicating King Henry's first offer of pardon to the rebels for stopping their rebellion.

Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester: Known in the play as Worcester, this rebel denied Hotspur any knowledge of King Henry's generous terms to the rebels to avoid war. Though Sir Richard Vernon disagreed, Worcester's position prevailed and Hotspur fought King Henry, none the wiser that King Henry IV had made an offer to avoid bloody conflict. At the end of the play, Worcester along with Sir Richard Vernon are put to death.
Family Tree
Family Tree

Character Study by "Novel Guide"

King Henry IV: King Henry IV is King of England. He seized the throne from Richard II (in events recorded in Richard II), and his reign is marked by a series of civil wars. Henry IV is a ruthless, efficient leader, although the conflicts he is embroiled in have weighed him down with anxiety. He is also worried about his irresponsible son, Prince Hal. Henry IV's ambition is to take an army to the Holy Land to reclaim it from the infidels, but he cannot do this until he has established peace at home.
Henry, Prince of Wales: Henry, Prince of Wales (also known as Hal), is the son of Henry IV and the heir to the throne. He leads a wild, irresponsible life, hanging around with thieves and drunkards, including Sir John Falstaff, at the Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap, London. But during the course of the play, Prince Hal reforms his behavior, promising the King that he will do himself justice in the coming battle. True to his word, he fulfills his duty at the battle of Shrewsbury, saving the King from being killed by Douglas, and then killing Hotspur. He becomes worthy of his status as heir to the throne.
Prince John of Lancaster: Prince John of Lancaster is the younger son of Henry IV, and brother of Prince Hal. He is the opposite of his wild brother, and is quick to take on responsibility in the King's councils. At the battle of Shrewsbury, he fights valiantly.
Earl of Westmoreland: The Earl of Westmoreland is a loyal and trusted ally of King Henry IV.
Sir Walter Blunt: Sir Walter Blunt is a supporter of King Henry IV. He serves as intermediary between the king and the rebels before the battle of Shrewsbury. He is killed by Douglas in the battle.
Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester: Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, is the younger brother of Northumberland, and is Hotspur's uncle. It is he who hatches the plot to oppose the king and works out the details of the alliance between the different rebel armies. Worcester plays a key role in the action when he deliberately fails to convey to Hotspur the King's offer of a pardon for the rebels. During the battle, he is captured. The King sentences him to death.
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland: Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland is a powerful nobleman who helped Henry IV seize the throne. He has now turned against Henry and is part of the plot against him. But he gets sick and is unable to take part in the battle at Shrewsbury.
Henry Percy ("Hotspur"): Hotspur is the son of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. He is a brave warrior and makes a name for himself by defeating Douglas the Scot and taking many Scottish prisoners. He then makes an alliance with the Scots and rebels against the King. Hotspur is excitable, impatient, impulsive and hot-tempered. He is quick to quarrel, but he is also full of exuberant life and humor, and these qualities make him an attractive character. He is eager to do battle with the Prince at Shrewsbury, and is not deterred by the absence of his father or of Glendower, or the fact that his army is outnumbered. Hotspur is killed by Prince Hal at the battle of Shrewsbury.
Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March: Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, is feared by Henry IV because he has a legitimate claim to the English throne. Mortimer is captured by Glendower, and Henry IV refuses to pay a ransom for him. This angers Hotspur, who is married to Mortimer's sister, and is one of the causes of Hotspur's rebellion against the King. Mortimer takes no part in the battle at Shrewsbury.
Richard Scroop, Archbishop of York: Richard Scroop, the Archbishop of York, supports Hotspur's rebellion.
Archibald, Earl of Douglas: Archibald, Earl of Douglas, is a Scottish warrior. He is a former enemy of Hotspur who is now Hotspur's ally. He takes part in the battle at Shrewsbury and almost manages to kill King Henry, but is put to flight by Prince Hal.
Owen Glendower: Owen Glendower is a boastful Welsh warrior and chieftain who captures Mortimer in battle. He then enters into an alliance with Hotspur to overthrow the King. But he cannot raise an army in time to take part in the battle at Shrewsbury.
Sir Richard Vernon: Sir Richard Vernon is one of the rebels, in alliance with Hotspur. He is captured at Shrewsbury and condemned to deat
Sir John Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff
h by the King.
Sir John Falstaff: Sir John Falstaff is the companion of Prince Hal. He is enormously fat, but he compensates for his bulk by a very nimble wit. He is a liar, a thief, a drunkard and a coward, but he has the gift of making light of everything. His easy-going good nature makes others willing to indulge his outrageous behavior, and he gets out of scrapes by using his wit and his ability to play on words. Falstaff cares nothing for authority and is cynical about martial ideals such as honor. He simply looks out for himself. Despite Falstaff's outlandish behavior, Prince Hal finds him a lovable and entertaining companion, and his other friends, such as Poins and Bardolph, are also fond of him. Falstaff goes to the battle at Shrewsbury with a company of conscripted ragamuffins who are soon killed. Falstaff's aim in the war is to stay alive and make a profit. He claims to have killed Hotspur, although in fact, when Prince Hal killed Hotspur, Falstaff was playing dead after being attacked by Douglas.

Sir Michael: Sir Michael is a friend of the Archbishop of York, who sends him with letters to the rebels.
Poins: Poins is a companion of Prince Hal and Falstaff. He persuades the Prince to play a joke on Falstaff and the others by robbing them after they have robbed the travelers at Gadshill.
Gadshill: Gadshill is one of Falstaff's companions at the tavern. He sets up the robbery at Gadshill and it is in turn robbed by Falstaff and Prince Hal. When Prince Hal questions him about the incident, he backs up Falstaff's version of events, even though he knows Falstaff is lying.
Peto: Peto is one of the tavern gang who takes part in the robbery at Gadshill.
Bardolph: Bardolph is one of Falstaff's disreputable pals. Falstaff calls him the "Knight of the Burning Lamp," because of his red nose, caused by too much drinking.
Francis: Francis is a bartender mocked by Poins and Prince Hal.
Lady Percy: Lady Percy is Hotspur's wife and Mortimer's sister.
Mistress Quickly: Mistress Quickly is hostess of the Boar's Head tavern on Eastcheap frequented by Falstaff and his friends.