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Summary Act 5

ACT V

SCENE I. The King’s camp near Shrewsbury.

Enter the King, Prince Henry, Prince John, Westmoreland, Blunt and Falstaff. King Henry and Prince Henry watch the sun rise. Worcester and Vernon enter; the King greets them and asks Worcester if he is willing to compromise with an agreement. Worcester tells him that he would if he could, but that he has made it impossible. He recounts Hotspurs accusations of Henry; Henry, however, dismisses the accusations as rationalizations and proclaims, more or less, that men who lust for power always seek petty reasons to justify their actions (perhaps a rationalization itself?). Prince Henry offers that he and Hotspur fight in order to resolve the whole conflict, thus saving many lives.

After Worcester and Vernon leave King Henry and Prince Henry agree that the two will probably not accept the proposal, for they are too confident in their abilities in battle. The King and everyone but the Prince and Falstaff leave. The two bid their farewells before the fight and Henry departs. Alone, Falstaff contemplates the nature of honor. To no surprise he dismisses it as shallow, calling it “a word…air. A trim reckoning.”

SCENE II. The rebel camp.

Enter Worcester and Vernon. Not wanting to accept Henry’s peace offer, Worcester decides that it would be best to not tell Hotspur, fearing that he might opt for it. He fears an armistice would irrevocably damage their image in the eyes of the public and the monarch, both of which would constantly question their loyalties and inevitably accuse them of treason. Hotspur and Douglas enter. Worcester lies to Hotspur, telling him that Henry rudely scoffed at their grievances and says that “there is no seeming mercy in the king.”

In response, Hotspur dispatches Douglas to challenge King Henry to battle; Worcester tells Hotspur that Prince Henry has challenged him to a duel. Upon hearing this, Hotspur decides to take up the challenge, announcing that he will seek Prince Henry out in the battlefield and fight him one-on-one. A messenger then arrives bearing urgent news, however Hotspur dismisses him in the heat of the moment declaring that he hasn’t the time to read them now. Another messenger enters to inform the group that the King’s army marches anon. The trumpets sound, they embrace each other and exit for battle.

SCENE III. Plain between the camps.

Enter King Henry; the battle has just begun. The King departs to some other part of the battlefield; Douglas and Sir Walter Blunt, dressed as the king, enter. Upon meeting each other in the battle, they exchange some words. The two fight, and Douglas kills Blunt, thinking he has in fact killed the King. Unfortunately for him, however, Hotspur enters and identifies the man as Blunt. Both leave to continue searching for the real King.

Falstaff enters talking to himself, sees Blunts body. He has spent his time trying to avoid the battle and divulges that most of his battalion is dead. Prince Henry enters and is flustered that he has lost his sword. He beseeches Falstaff for his, but niggardly Falstaff will not give it fearing being unarmed while Hotspur is still alive. He proposes that he take his pistol instead, which is in its case. However, when Henry opens the case he finds out Falstaff’s “pistol” is a bottle of sack. He throws it at Falstaff and leaves; Falstaff talks to himself a bit and leaves, also.

SCENE IV. Another part of the field.

Enter Prince Henry, King Henry, John of Lancaster, and Westmoreland. Prince Henry has sustained an injury but refuses to cease his occupation in the battle. He heads off with John and Westmoreland to fight elsewhere. Douglas reenters and King Henry and Douglas engage in combat; the King does not stand much of a chance against the superior Douglas. Luckily, Prince Henry reenters to and, seeing his father in danger, challenges Douglas, whom he beats and causes to flee. The King and Prince Henry talk; The King, impressed by the display, tells his son that he has regained his respect. King Henry exits.

Hotspur enters and, seeing Prince Henry, challenges him to a duel. While they are fighting, Falstaff enters and cheers for Henry. Douglas enters and assails Falstaff, who cowardly plays possum. Douglas, thinking that he is dead, leaves him and exits the scene. Henry wounds Hotspur who falls, gives a death speech, and dies mid-sentence. Henry sees Falstaff and thinks he is dead, whereupon he lauds both Falstaff and Hotspur and vows to come back and bury their bodies after the battle. Once Henry leaves Falstaff gets up and hatches a scheme to make everyone think that it was in fact he who killed Hotspur. He stabs Hotspur in the leg; Henry and his brother, John of Lancaster (also Prince John), reenter and are quite surprised to find Falstaff among the living. Falstaff claims that when Henry left him and Hotspur they were both merely down out of breath and that he has, in fact, killed Hotspur; acting quite impressed with himself, he states that he expects the King to make him an Earl or a Duke for his accomplishment. Confused, Henry and John decide they will figure out the truth later. The three exit.

SCENE V. Another part of the field.

Enter King Henry, Prince Henry, John of Lancaster, and Westmoreland with Worcester and Vernon as prisoners. The battle is over; the king has found out that the rebellion was elicited by Worcester’s deceitfulness towards Hotspur and orders Worcester and Vernon to be put to death. Prince Henry tells the King that Douglas has also been captured, is being held at his tent, and asks Henry for permission to decide Douglas’s fate. The King grants the request and Prince Henry orders that the Douglas be set free for the valor he displayed on the battlefield.

While the battle is over, there is still rebellion a-brewing elsewhere. The King must mobilize his armies again in preparation; he sends John and Westmoreland off to York to meet Northumberland and Scroop, Meanwhile he will head off with Prince Henry to fight Glendower and Mortimer, earl of March.

William Shakespeare