Henry IV Part 2: Novel Summary: Act II Scene 2

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Act II Scene 2
At Prince Henry's house in London, the prince talks with his friend Poins, saying that he is tired of the superficial life he leads. Poins rebukes him for not showing any concern about his father's sickness. The Prince replies that he does feel sadness, but he doesn't show it. He thinks that if he did, people would think him a hypocrite. The fact that he associates with Falstaff and leads such a wild life has led people to suppose he has no concern for his father.
Bardolph and Page enter with a letter from Falstaff to the Prince. The letter is written in an over-familiar way, ignoring the rules of how a Prince should be addressed. In the letter, Falstaff tells Henry not to get too close to Poins, who has boasted that the Prince has promised to marry Nell, Poins's sister.
Poins denies that he ever said such a thing. The Prince then establishes from Bardolph that Falstaff will be at the Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap for supper, and he resolves to go there with Poins and surprise him. He makes Bardolph promise not to tell Falstaff of his plans.
After Bardolph and Page exit, the Prince says that he wants to see Falstaff in his true colors at the tavern. Poins suggests they disguise themselves as servers, and wait on Falstaff at his table.
Analysis
In this scene, the first in which Prince Henry appears, Shakespeare starts to pave the way for the transformation of the Prince into a man worthy to be king. The Prince is tired of the kind of life he leads, and he is aware of how this has damaged his standing in the eyes of the people. Because he has been so closely associated with Falstaff, he cannot show his true filial emotions about his father, since no one would believe him. Even though in the second part of the scene, the Prince and Poins plan yet another escapade in the Boar's Head, the Prince's final speech suggests that he is fully aware that he is not acting in a way that is worthy of himself ("From a prince to a prentice? A low transformation"). The actor playing Henry has a chance here to convey the burden that the Prince is carrying: he knows he must break with Falstaff, but habit still clings hard to him, so he must, at least one more time, indulge in the low life of the tavern.

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