Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare
1. Falstaff asks, “What is honour? A word. What is in that word honour? What is that honour? Air.”
How important is honour in Henry IV, Part I?
2. ‘Henry IV, Part I is a warning about the dangers of rebelling against a monarch.’ How does the
play deliver this warning?
3. ‘The fathers in Henry IV, Part I are defined more by their shortcomings than by their virtues.’ How
effective are the father figures in the play?
4. ‘Hotspur is the most honest character in the play.’ Discuss.
5. ‘Prince Hal is a calculating and manipulative character.’ Do you agree?
6. Is Henry a corrupt despot or a good king trying to hold on to power?
7. ‘Falstaff is the true hero of the play.’ Discuss.
8. ‘Prince Hal develops a range of unconventional skills that will enable him to become a wise and
effective ruler.’ Is this how you see Hal’s experiences in the play?
9. ‘Hal is like any ordinary young man who is struggling to live up to parental expectations.’ Discuss.
10. ‘Falstaff fosters his friendship with Hal in the hope that he will be able to influence the Prince when
he becomes King.’ Is Falstaff motivated purely by self-interest?
11. ‘The Tudor view was that the ideal king should combine the qualities of soldier, scholar and
courtier’ (Bate & Rasmussen 2007, p.892). To what extent does Prince Hal exhibit these qualities?
12. Falstaff feigns death on the battlefield, then defends himself by saying, “The better part of valour is
discretion.” Is Falstaff’s idea of valour supported by the play as a whole?
13. ‘Part of the conflict between Prince Hal and his father is because they are so similar.’ Do you
14. ‘At the centre of this play is Henry’s doubt about his own right to the crown.’ Discuss.
15. ‘Most of the characters in the play see themselves as actors.’ Discuss.
16. Hal says to Falstaff, “Thou art not what thou seemest.” Are any of the characters truly what they
‘seem’ to others?
17. ‘Falstaff embodies the idea of freedom in the play.’ Do you agree?
18. ‘The play shows the disorder and conflict that result when society’s rulers are driven by greed and
19. ‘The play explores the relationship between public and private personas.’ Discuss.
20. ‘Shakespeare concludes that honour comes before individual safety.’ Do you agree?