The stirring continuation of the themes begun in Henry IV, Part One again pits a rebellion within the State and that master of misrule, Falstaff, against the maturing of Prince Hal. Alternating scenes between bawdy tavern and regal court, between revelry and politics, Shakespeare probes at the sources, uses, and responsibilities of power as an old king dies and a young king must choose between a ruler's solemn duty and a merry but dissipated friend, Falstaff. The play represents Shakespeare at the peak of his maturity in writing historical drama and comedy.
About the Author
Arguably the greatest English-language playwright, William Shakespeare was a seventeenth-century writer and dramatist, and is known as the Bard of Avon. Under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth I, he penned more than 30 plays, 154 sonnets, and numerous narrative poems and short verses. Equally accomplished in histories, tragedies, comedy, and romance, Shakespeare s most famous works include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, and As You Like It.
Like many of his contemporaries, including Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare began his career on the stage, eventually rising to become part-owner of Lord Chamberlain s Men, a popular dramatic company of his day, and of the storied Globe Theatre in London.
Extremely popular in his lifetime, Shakespeare s works continue to resonate more than three hundred years after his death. His plays are performed more often than any other playwright s, have been translated into every major language in the world, and are studied widely by scholars and students.
David Bevington is Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. His recent publications include "Shakespeare: The Seven Ages of Human Experience" (second edition, 2005) and "Shakespeare: Script, Stage, Screen" (with Anne Marie Welsh and Michael L. Greenwald, 2006). He has also edited the Bantam Shakespeare in 29 volumes (currently being reedited), "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" (fifth edition, 2003), and a number of individual Shakespeare plays including "Antony and Cleopatra," "Henry IV, Part I," and "Troilus and Cressida,"