Read Henry the Fourth, part I by William Shakespeare Free Online
Book Title: Henry the Fourth, part I|
The author of the book: William Shakespeare
Edition: W. W. Norton & Company
Date of issue: December 1st 1985
ISBN 13: 9780393095548
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 962 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.7
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I have read this play many times, and--although Shakespeare always shows me something new--this reading gave me little insight and few surprises. I was struck with two parallels, however--one within the play itself, and one within Shakespeare's body of work.
First of all, I appreciated the subtle parallels between the Hotspur-Glendower and the Hal-Falstaff scenes. Each young man spends much of his time needling a self-important, older man who is such a windbag that the audience is almost automatically on the young man's side. Hotspur, whom we are inclined to respect because of his high spirits and his achievements as a warrior, is so easily irritated, and carries his own self-regard so close to the surface, that his needling of Glendower--although deserved--seem pointless, rash and injudicious. (It may, in fact, prove fatal, since Glendower fails to come to Hotspur's aid when most needed--a dereliction perhaps precipitated by the younger man's abrasive heckling.) Consequently, although we like Hotspur at the end of the scene as much as we liked him at the beginning, we respect him a good deal less.
Contrast with this the Hal-Falstaff exchanges. Hal, already characterized as a wastrel, punctures Falstaff's pomposity with such a controlled attack of pointed wit that we begin to admire him for his discipline (at least in conversation), and sense that there may be more to him than appears on the surface. In addition, Falstaff--unlike the humorless Glendower--is a worthy opponent, filled with wit and self-awareness, and the fact that Hal can more than hold his own--and keep his temper too--suggests a self-awareness, a deliberately cultivated distance from his degraded surroundings, that prepares us for his eventual transformation just as much as his soliloquy about the sun.
The other parallel--between plays--is closer, but certainly less important. Lady Percy, in her attempts to gain information about the coming rebellion, delivers a speech that is very much like Portia's speech to Brutus in similar circumstances. Their conduct afterwards, though, is different. Portia--the stoic Roman--cuts herself in the thigh to prove her ability to keep a secret, but Lady Percy--a hardy warrior's bride--tries to break her husband's little finger and force him to talk. (Like I said, this isn't that important, but it is interesting how a great dramatist can use similar materials in support of very different effects.)
Speaking overall, I am once again astonished by the great command of voices that Shakespeare demonstrates in this play. Hotspur, Falstaff, Glendower, Hal and Mistress Quickly all use language in very distinctive ways, and even the casual conversation of the servants in the stable yard is vivid and characteristic. I am also impressed with the expert and seamless blending of poetry with prose, history with comedy, rhetoric with wit.
By the time he wrote Henry IV, Shakespeare could not only do it all, but he knew exactly how--and when--to mix it up. This is indisputably the work of a master.
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Read information about the authorWilliam Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars believe that he died on his fifty-second birthday, coinciding with St George’s Day.
At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
According to historians, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets throughout the span of his life. Shakespeare's writing average was 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. There have been plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that were not authentically written by the great master of language and literature.
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