Henry IV Part 1: Novel Summary: Act 5 scene 2

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At the rebel camp, Worcester tries to persuade Vernon that they should not inform Hotspur of the King's offer of a pardon. Worcester thinks it likely that Hotspur would accept. But Worcester believes the King would not stick to his word. He would find other things to punish them for. He would deliberately misinterpret their words and find a way to get rid of them. Vernon replies that it is up to Worcester what report he delivers.

Hotspur and Douglas enter. Worcester completely misrepresents what the King told him. He says nothing of the offer of pardon, and reports that the King called them rebels and traitors that he would crush by force of arms. At Hotspur's request, Douglas sends Westmoreland back with a message of defiance. (Westmoreland had been held as a hostage pending the safe return of Worcester and Vernon.)

Worcester then reports that Prince Hal challenged Hotspur to single combat. Hotspur asks whether the Prince sounded contemptuous of him, and Vernon replies that the Prince showed him every respect. Vernon speaks very highly of the Prince, saying that if he survives this day, he will be the great hope of England; his past misbehavior has caused people to overlook or misconstrue his real nature.

Hotspur is not convinced, and he looks forward to engaging the Prince on the battlefield. A messenger arrives bearing letters for him, but Hotspur says he cannot read them now. Another messenger enters with news that the King's army is approaching. Hotspur prepares for battle and tells each man to do his best.

Analysis
If there was any doubt about the respective moral standings of the two groups, it is surely settled in this scene. Worcester's deliberate misrepresentation of the King's message, and his withholding of vital information, fatally undermines the rebels' standing in the eyes of the audience. The fact that Vernon, as in Act 4 scene 1, praises Prince Hal so highly is another indication not only of Hal's reformation but of the rightness of the royal cause.

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