Studying for an exam or test can be quite daunting. Use these questions to help increase your understanding of the play. Or, if you need to write a paper, choose any and formulate a thesis off of it.

== Questions:

  1. Is Hal better suited to be a king than Hotspur? Why or why not? What qualities make a good leader?
  2. It seems like everyone in the play has something to say about the concept of "honor" ("honour" if you're British). What is "honor" anyway? How is it defined throughout the play? Is it a good thing? Just a silly idea? Something else?
  3. What kind of roles do women have in the play (there are only three of them – what's up with that)? What kinds of scenes do they appear in? What kinds of other characters are they associated with? Do they have any bearing on the way the plot unfolds? Or, do they have another kind of function?
  4. Falstaff is one of the most talked about characters in literary history. What makes his character so appealing?
  5. Can teenagers today relate to Prince Hal and the dramatic change he undergoes in the play? Why or why not?
  6. Sometimes it seems like Hal and Falstaff would rather spend the summer at theater camp than do anything else. What's up with that? Seriously. What's the significance of Hal's penchant for putting on little plays and skits? What's the function of all the play-acting in Henry IV Part 1?
  7. Henry IV is in many ways a study of contrasting characters, including Harry, Hotspur, Falstaff, and King Henry. Does the play have a single protagonist or many characters of equal importance? Why is the play named after King Henry?
  8. The play contains many instances of symmetry, in which scenes or even people seem to be slightly altered reflections of other scenes or people. Look for scenes where you think that a previous event is being repeated or transformed or for characters who are explicitly contrasted or compared. Which scenes or characters are these? Why might Shakespeare use this technique?
  9. Henry IV mixes prose and poetry to an extraordinary degree. Consider the places in which the two modes occur in the play. Why did Shakespeare choose to write his play this way? Do you think that some of the characters “demand” to speak in prose or in poetry? How would the character of Falstaff, for instance, be different if he spoke in iambic pentameter or that of King Henry if he always spoke in prose? Can you see Harry’s shifts from poetry to prose and back again as an indication of changes in his frame of mind, his environment, or his ambitions over the course of the play?

  1. Think about Act II, scene iv, in which Hotspur is confronted by his wife about his plans for the rebellion. What does this scene tell us about Hotspur’s character? What does it tell us about Renaissance marriage and the role of women in general? How does Shakespeare connect this analysis to the forward motion of his plot?

Debate Questions

  1. While the play initially establishes Hotspur as a talented young leader who would be a desirable king, it ultimately suggests that Prince Hal's cunning and charisma make him a more suitable leader than young Percy.

  1. Henry IV Part 1 explores the relationship between theatricality and leadership – ultimately, the play suggests that kingship is merely a "role" that can be "played" by anyone with acting skills and the right "costume."

  1. In Henry IV Part 1, one's ability to master and control language and speech is a marker of one's ability to lead and govern the kingdom.

  1. In the play, marriage is portrayed as an institution that can make men soft and weak, limiting their ability to fight in battle.

  1. In Henry IV Part 1, the tumultuous relationship between King Henry and Prince Hal dramatizes, on a small, intimate scale, the civil rebellion that threatens to destroy England.

Questions courtesy of and