Henry Iv Part 1 Act 3 Analysis Essay

Act Three, Scene One

The rebels are gathered in Glyndwr's castle where they look over a map of England, Scotland and Wales. Glyndwr tells Hotspur that he has magic powers, which is why King Henry has failed to defeat him, in spite of sending three armies into Wales already. Hotspur rejects this as nonsense, but is forced to remain friendly.

The men have divided the map into three parts, with England going to Mortimer, Scotland going to Hotspur, and Wales going to Glyndwr. Hotspur tries to argue over a piece of land which he feels he deserves, but Glyndwr refuses to allow it to him.

After all the preparations for battle are made, with the agreement that their armies will assemble near Shrewsbury, the men call in their wives to say goodbye. Mortimer must use Glyndwr as a translator, because he cannot understand his Welsh wife when she speaks to him. Hotspur and Lady Percy tease each other again, after which Hotspur departs to get to his army. The rest of the men follow him.

Act Three, Scene Two

King Henry and Hal meet together for the first time. Henry gives a long lecture to Hal about the trials and suffering he went through in order to seize the throne from Richard II. He ends up weeping about the fact that he loves his son Hal even though Hal seems so unfit for the throne. Hal replies, saying, "I shall hereafter, my thrice-gracious lord, / Be more myself" (3.2.92).

Henry then explains to Hal how his enemies have combined against him. He further indicates that Hotspur is considered a great warrior, and that against him Hal is nothing. Hal responds by telling his father that, "I will redeem all this on Percy's head, / ...when I will wear a garment all of blood" (3.2.132, 136). Henry decides to grant Hal a military command over one of the armies, and immediately has all of his men mobilizing towards Shrewsbury.

Act Three, Scene Three

Falstaff enters the inn where he had fallen asleep the day before. The Hostess demands that he pay her for the amount of credit he has accumulated, but Falstaff pretends that he was robbed the night before while asleep in her inn. She denies it, at which point Falstaff says that his ring was taken. The Hostess points out that the ring was made of copper, and therefore valueless.

Finally Prince Harry enters and confronts Falstaff with the fact that he was the one who stole the money from Falstaff's pockets. Hal tells them that he has also paid back the stolen golden marks, thereby saving Falstaff from being punished. When Falstaff protests, Hal tells him that, "I am good friends with my father, and may do anything" (3.3.166). Falstaff receives his infantry command, and Hal departs to go join his army.


The meeting of the rebels in Wales gives the audience an insight into the character differences between these men and Hal. Wales is an area of the country which serves not only as a place of enchantment, but also as a place of unbridled emotions: Hotspur's irascible impatience, Glyndwr's pride, Mortimer and the Welsh woman's passion. The interaction between the rebels while at Glyndwr's castle shows the faults of each of them. Hotspur is too impatient, he would rather depart immediately, and in fact is the first man to leave. Glyndwr is convinced of his magical powers, and is insulted that Hotspur does not believe in his abilities. Mortimer has meanwhile become infatuated with a Welsh woman whom he cannot even understand when she speaks.

It is fascinating that this act marks the first meeting of Hal and King Henry. Shakespeare has had them allude to each other so many times that the audience can be forgiven for thinking they have already seen this scene. In fact, the audience already viewed Hal and Henry together, in the form of Falstaff and Hal.

Henry delivers a long speech which is designed to show his contempt for the way Hal has acted all these years. At the end of the first part of the speech, Hal tells Henry that he will now shed his previous role and start to act the part of heir to the throne. "I shall hereafter, my thrice-gracious lord, / Be more myself" (3.2.92). These words mark his move away from Falstaff, a move that will culminate in Falstaff's banishment in Part Two of the plays.

Hal gradually emerges not only as a consummate actor, but also as a savior, a Christ figure. "I will redeem all this on Percy's head, / ...when I will wear a garment all of blood" (3.2.132, 136). This statement derives from Revelation 19:13, where the King of Kings will wear a garment dipped in blood. The comparison with Christ is made more explicit by the fact that Hal spends time with the whores and thieves. In this role, Hal can be viewed as a man who must redeem England.

One of the lines which bears some examination is when Hal tells Falstaff, "I am good friends with my father, and may do anything" (3.3.166). This sentiment has not been expressed before, and indeed it is one of the few times that Hal refers to his royal rights as a justification for doing something. The question that arises is whether Hal and Henry really are good friends. Henry seems to be unsure of this fact, evidenced in the previous scene where he is unsure whether or not Hal can succeed in a battle. Hal, however, has no doubts that he and his father are friends, and it is likely that this knowledge derives from that fact that Hal understands his father far better than Henry understands Hal.

Mortimer chastises Hotspur for fighting so much with Glendower. Hotspur says he can’t help it, he gets so angry listening to “tedious” Glendower’s mysticism and faith in portents (what Hotspur calls “skimble-skamble stuff.”) Mortimer protests that Glendower is in fact well-read, brave, kind, and rich, and that, though he’s thus far restrained himself from blowing up at Hotspur, Hotspur should be careful not to try his patience in the future. Worcester chimes in, calling Hotspur “too willful-blunt” and urging him to “amend this fault” for, though it occasionally lends him “greatness” and “courage,” it more often leads him into “harsh rage,” rudeness, poor judgment, “pride, haughtiness….and disdain.” Hotspur pronounces himself “school’d” and announces that they should bid their wives farewell and leave.

Even Hotspur admits that he can’t control his speech. Mortimer tries to make Hotspur see past his narrow-minded value system to appreciate Glendower’s refinement. Worcester’s diagnosis of his nephew is apt: indeed, the very boldness that spurs Hotspur towards brave war victories ends up handicapping him in peacetime. It makes him, as Worcester says, too proud, haughty, and disdainful.

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