ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • Literature»
  • English Literature


Updated on August 19, 2011

As in all the Shakespearean plays, the first Act of Henry IV is also extremely significant as it introduces us not only to the main characters of the play but is also used as a platform by Shakespeare for bringing to light the themes that are to be built upon in the play.

Right in the opening of the play Shakespeare introduces the themes of war and peace by presenting King Henry IV building upon his utopian dream of a peacefulEnglandwhich is then caught in strife and civil war. War remains to be the pivotal governing theme of the play through out.

The next most dominant theme that is put forh is the contrast of good and vice presented through the characters of Hotspur, Hal (Prince Henry), and Falstaff. Hotspur is a warrior full of valor living for nothing else but honor, and opposed to him is Prince Henry (Hal), the would be king of England who should be the epitome of excellence but is a thieving, ideal and corrupt perosonalty found in the wrong company of Falstaff.

Honor and dignity is yet another major theme that drives the play. This is what hotspur lives and dies for. it ultimately gets to this head, makes him impulsive and brings his downfall. Similarly, honor is also what Hal acquires and manipulates most appopriatly to his advantage, later in the play.

The theme of reformation has also been hinted at by Shakespeare in the opening Act. We are introduced to Prince Hal as someone steeped in crime but soon afterwars he admits having all the capabilities required for a King and vows to reveal them at the right time.the very drastic and dramatic change that occurs in his personality later in the play is a manifestation of this very theme of the reformation and change. It is this very change that enables Hal to reestablish himself as an able and legimitage King of England and crush all the forces of opposition, including Hotspur.

The theme of comedy is also evident in the Act, incorporated into it by shakespear through the very interesting and popular character of Falstaff. He is perhaps the sole source of comic relief in this very grave and serious play, creating humor through his wit, manipulation of language and absolute mastery at punning.

As would be typial in a historic play, the themes of treachery, lust, greed and usurpation also play their part. We see Hotspur, Earls of Northumberland and Worchester all plotting to overthrow the King, after having felt neglected by him.similarly Falstaff also forshadows being a traitor when hal becomes a king, even though not seriously, but it relay does happen when hal accends the throne. Meanwhile King Henry is also seen repentant and guilty for having desposed Richard II and tries to make up for it by planning for the crusades.

All these themes introduced in the introductory Act of the play are later built and expounded upon very beautifully and professionally by Shakespeare. These themes put forth not only aim at introducing the audience to the plot but also captivate their interest and transport them to the times of King Henry IV.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)