I’m Not OK With The Ending to Henry IV

henry IV

So as I mentioned some time ago, I struggled to get through Henry IV Part 1 and 2. Even though I was supposed to read it at uni, I really was not a fan, and just couldn’t finish them. But now I’ve finally got through the whole thing and I have to say I AM NOT OK WITH THAT ENDING!! Goddamn you William Shakespeare for making me feel like this!!

(Apologies cos I’m about to get a little ranty and spoilery)

Because you cannot stab Falstaff in the back like that- it is not okay! No, just no. Of course it makes sense and was realistic that a king would act like that- but I just couldn’t bear to see it unfold. Especially after the hope Falstaff had expressed that they would have a king who was finally on his side- only to have said king stab him in the back!

Of course it was realistic that a king would do something like that. In fact, it speaks volumes about the divide between the aristocracy and the poor. At the end of the day, the poor were just there to be ridiculed and were not to be taken seriously. Much like Shakespeare’s other work, the lower classes were just there to be mocked. They are seen as lesser people on a lower rung of society. It is a tragic indictment of the society Shakespeare lived in. No matter how funny Shakespeare gets, there’s often something sinister going on under the surface.

When you see this cruelty played out in Henry IV you finally get to see the harshness of Shakespeare’s universe. In the moment when Falstaff is cast aside laughter turns to tears. What could have been such a joyous, triumphant moment ends up leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. Because the reality of the play is too harsh for words.

And that is the power of Shakespeare- even 400 years after his death- he has the ability to get under your skin as if he wrote it yesterday. The drama of it is insanely accurate- which is a true testament to his genius.

Okay, so I know that was fairly ranty and had little to do with the play as a whole, but I just had to get that off my chest. Do you ever feel like that about books? And who’s your favourite non-contemporary author that just taps into your feelings perfectly? Let me know in the comments!

And, just to let you know, I’m posting my results for the Shakespeare Awards tomorrow, so today’s your last chance to vote on your fave Shakespeare plays!

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13 thoughts on “I’m Not OK With The Ending to Henry IV

  1. samfalston says:

    I studied this text in uni as well (we even performed a few scenes for a project!) Falstaff is probably my favourite character and I love how Shakespeare contrasts him with everyone else.
    Forgive me, it was a while ago so I don’t remember all of it, but I love looking at these plays in the context of the time period, namely who Shakespeare was obliged to cater to with his work.
    Have you read The Tempest? That was another favor of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      That sounds fun! How did it go? Oh definitely- I loved him- which was why I really couldn’t stand to see what happened to him. Me too- it gives the play so much more meaning.
      Yeah I’ve read it- and while the writing’s beautiful, but I’m not so crazy about the plot of that one- I get that it’s a metaphor for Shakespeare “hanging up” his writing pen, but maybe that’s why I don’t like it- cos I’ve never been a fan of endings (if that makes sense)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Claire | Art and Soul says:

    I think, if its helps, some directors get their actors to play the rejection of Falstaff so that it’s clear that Henry is putting on a show of rejecting him because it’s what’s expected of him by the nobles, but then he kind of does a wink at Falstaff so we know they’re still going to be mates… just sneakily/on the sly. I think I prefer this interpretation because Hal/Henry’s always been a manipulative character and this seems more consistent with his personality. And also because it makes Henry seem like less of a back-stabbing git!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Oh that’s an excellent point- there is always that way of doing it. I guess I think it works as an ending- I just found it super depressing :/ Like you said- it makes sense because he’s a backstabbing git- and because he was a king- so I agree with you about preferring this version- but it was still really depressing :/

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rantandraveaboutbooks says:

    I love a good rant. Nice post! 😉 I’ve wanted to read Henry IV for years, but I always put this one off. Shakespeare really had a way with words. His works are fantastic. That’s such a bummer when the ending doesn’t live up to what you were expecting. My favorite is A Midsummer Nights Dream. My mom used to wonder where my interest in fairies came from like it was some modern concept. Haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you! haha I imagine you would :p It kind of lived upto it- but it was also really depressing and hard to deal with. I do adore Midsummer Night’s Dream- that’s my favourite comedy- so definitely one of my favourites! (I can never just pick one!) haha- I get what you mean- though mine probably came from Peter Pan first and foremost!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rantandraveaboutbooks says:

        I didn’t even think about Peter Pan even though I should have. I wasn’t into fairies much until I read A Midsumer Night’s Dream my first year of college. But now that I think about it, I read Peter Pan and saw the movies long before I ever read Shakespeare.

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          ahh well that’s probably because things like Peter Pan are just embedded in most people’s psyches 🙂 you don’t even have to think about it for it to have had an influence (at least that’s my take) Midsummer Night’s Dream was my first ever Shakespeare- I saw it in primary school and fell in love ❤ it completely started my love of shakespeare for sure!

          Liked by 1 person

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