Places: Henry IV, Part I

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1598

First produced: 1592

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Historical

Time of work: 1403

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedRoyal palace

Royal Henry IV, Part Ipalace. King Henry IV’s principal seat of rule, where he plans political strategy and shows concern about his seemingly dissolute son, Prince Hal, who swears to redeem himself at Hotspur’s expense. The text distinguishes this palace from Windsor Castle, where the king, Northumberland, Worcester, and Hotspur meet before the rupture between Henry and the Percys. Productions of the play usually generalize the setting, and in most productions, the palace exudes a mood of solemnity with its somber soldiers, counselors, and courtiers.

Boar’s Head Tavern

Boar’s Head Tavern. Public house in London’s Eastcheap district that is the scene of Falstaff’s dishonest retelling of the Gad’s Hill escapade and of the interview-game he plays with Hal. The tavern is also the place where Mistress Quickly (hostess of the tavern) and Bardolph appear as examples of Shakespearean bawdiness. The location is usually depicted onstage as a place with battered walls, barrels of sack, and a shingle to indicate its name. Taken as a place of common people, seedy characters, and reprobate behavior, the tavern represents the sort of social and moral disgrace into which Hal has fallen and out from which he must rise and redeem himself.

*Warkworth Castle

*Warkworth Castle. Stronghold in Northumberland–the principal seat of the Percy family–where Hotspur exasperates his wife with his intense preoccupation with military honor. It is here that Hotspur scoffs at a popinjay lord’s affectation, just as his own courtly life is scoffed at by Falstaff and Hal in Eastcheap. Beneath the superficial charm of Lady Percy’s hospitality and Welsh song, lies Hotspur’s reckless restlessness, his extravagant sense of military honor.


*Shrewsbury. Climactic battlefield on which Hotspur is slain, and Hal distinguishes himself in hand-to-hand combat, that was earlier a stronghold of both Saxons and Normans.

BibliographyBaker, Herschel. Introduction to Henry IV, Part I, by William Shakespeare. In The Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Miflin, 1974. Brief introduction to the play, with explanation of Shakespeare’s use of his sources, his different levels of plotting, and use of humor.Bevington, David. Introduction to Henry IV, Part I, by William Shakespeare. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. General introduction to the play. Discusses its performance history, its sources, its major characters, its structural unity, and its politics.Cohen, Derek. “The Rite of Violence in I Henry IV.” Shakespeare Survey 38 (1985): 77-84. A detailed analysis of Hotspur as structural center of the play, explaining his evolution from comic to heroic and then to tragic figure.Fehrenbach, Robert J. “The Characterization of the King in I Henry IV.” Shakespeare Quarterly 30 no. 1 (Winter, 1979): 42-50. Contends that a focus upon King Henry is crucial to comprehension of Shakespeare’s use of indirect characterization.Levin, Lawrence. “Hotspur, Falstaff and the Emblem of Wrath in I Henry IV.” Shakespeare Studies 10 (1977): 43-65. Analyzes the relationship between Hotspur and Falstaff, contending Falstaff is a visual representation of the wrath that controls Hotspur.
Categories: Places