This is an extremely important key scene in the play as this is where all the action comes to a climax as the 2 young warriors battle it out once and for all and total redemption takes place, When Hal saves his father from the clutches of Douglas. Section 1 At the start of this climactic scene we are faced with the king and Hal and Lancaster in a tent, by the king’s language we can tell that Hal has been wounded from actually fighting in the battlefield.
This also shows that what Vernon said about Hal being an “angel” and like the god “mercury” is true by conveying a sense of perfection. Hal also has the god like qualities Hal “bleedest too much” but refuses to leave the field. “Shallow scratch… drive the Prince of Wales” shows how he is dismissing his wound whilst using his title which shows loyalty to his father. The rich language portrays that Hal is going to be independent.
Also in this section the very princely qualities are shown by Hal as he takes time to compliment his brother because he “lends mettle to us all” and is an “ungrown warrior” similar to Hal and Hotspur. Here he is proving that he is moving away from his former self and living up to his statement of “loose behaviour I throw off” and is turning into “bright metal on sullen ground” proving his military prowess but has not yet fulfilled his total redemption theme. Whilst all this is going on I would have sound effects in the back ground of battle cries etc…
But in the tent the defiant princes would step back together to the doorway as if to show they want to re-enter the battle as he continues to praise his older brother he should have his arm out with hand on heart to show that he really means it and cares. When he is referring to himself as “the Prince of Wales” here he is turning a new leaf and once again juxtaposing himself so he needs to stand similar to that of a victorious boxer, chest out hands on hips looking very proud with his chin up, delivering his lines with maximum confidence.
Maybe in the back drop behind there could be moving shadows about to portray the massacres happening. All this high spirited behaviour, morale boosting and noble activities contradict Falstaff’s laziness and inability to lead people and be a good example to Hal. Once again Hal showing his matureness by praising and complimenting his family prove his godlike qualities shows us all how supportive he can be. In his soliloquy he made no promises so when his true self emerges it will have great impact, his virtues will be seen even better but he hasn’t faced the ultimate challenge of taking on his arch enemy Hotspur.
Section 2 Here now I think that the lights should dim and the sound effects quieten down to a few moans as we have the king pacing up and down with his arms behind his back to emphasise his girth and inability to fight whereas then a fully able exasperated Douglas comes marching in as a pivotal moment in the play commences the spotlight should switch onto him coming in like a schoolyard bully. When this takes place the king will not look scared but slightly shocked, Douglas then shall deliver his lines with a great sense of confidence and intimidation.
There should be meaningful and effective pauses in-between “I am the Douglas” also there should be underlying sarcasm here to portray the feeling that Douglas is going to absolutely obliterate the king. Of course the audience know that the king can’t stand a chance against a man who has only ever been defeated once! By now both the actors should be looking into each others eyes with sheer grit and determination. Here maintaining eye contact, the lights should brighten symbolising the confineness of their “arena”. Both swords will now be drawn slowly as the audience see the courage and bravery of a man guilty of regicide of a good ruler.
Here there should be an effective silence then a sword fight dominated by Douglas. As Henry throws his all his energy, power and aggression into his last horizontal slash on his knees, Douglas will smash Henry’s weapon down. Helpless Henry is at Douglas’s mercy, he should rise his sword to terminate Henry from all existence but after the king has just shown all his courage Douglas actually believes that it is the actual king as any other “counterfeitest” wouldn’t have fought so valiantly as Henry is prepared to lay down his life for honour.
Not only does Henry “bearest thee like a king” but was not just another “hydras heads” but the “very king”! As Douglas has the king in this position the spotlight needs to refocus onto the fact that Henry is in dire need of salvation and the audience need to see how powerless the king now is to “the Douglas”. At the very last second however a deep booming voice should come from the darkness then Hal is light up slowly as his line is said like the good Samaritan saving the leader of this country, his father.
Here is “reformation” is “glittering o’er my fault” now he is saving his father from the hands of devious Douglas. Henry’s mouth should drop open with shock and awe as he is the last person in the world he expected to save him. Here the audience should be really surprised to see that Hal is doing such a noble deed as he “to make offence a skill” he is doing the total opposite of what people expected him to do. Hal is once again been very kingly by fighting for “valiant spirits of Shirley, Stafford and Blunt” who Douglas had previously slain believing them to be false kings.
This arrival of “the Prince of Wales” shocks Douglas as Hal “never promiseth but means to pay” meaning he never makes a promise unless he means to keep it referring back to all the promises he made in his soliloquy to reform. This is another great stage of his redemption and the audience must be made aware of this by Hal’s stance full of high spirits and power after a brief encounter Douglas realises Hal’s superior combat skills and flees.
At this point the audience need to be aware of how much Hal has saved his father also the father and son bond is really gaining strength. Hal has now proved his worth to Henry and has completely redeemed himself as we can see from “thou hast redeemed thou lost opinion … tender of my life” this is once again proving to us that Hal can care for Henry he just never showed it before. Whilst all this is being said Henry should have a thankful arm on his sons shoulder and trying to make eye contact.
However all the hurt over the years has taken its toll on Hal so he should shy away saying that “did me too much injury” at this point the sounds of battle start to roar and the personal part of this scene shall disappear as Hal still can’t accept that his own father thought he “hearkened for his death” then Henry shall depart leaving the audience wondering what’s going to happen now that the rift between the heir to the throne has been cured. The king now sees his son in a totally new light. Section 3
Now the audience are left with a satisfied Hal pondering centre stage as there is only one objective left to fulfil, the killing of his enemy Hotspur. The audience know the climax has been built up to through all the play with the 2 characters with such difference and similarity between them. Monumental importance is shown here by slowing down the direction of the play as the troops in the background cease to fight and the battle cries die down then the spotlight focuses on these two great warriors and an atmosphere needs to be created as if the world is now revolving around these two rivals.
When Hotspur speaks his first line it should be delivered in a very dismissive tone as if he is fighting a poor soldier with no experience which is what he is mistaking Hal for. At this point Hotspur should come closer to Hal in an alert way. They both call each other by their proper names such as “Harry Monmouth” to show how much in common they really have and are not intimidated by one another. There is already now an uneasy tension being created by the two men and there is always this strong atmosphere, an air of respect.
Both Harry’s are speaking there lines with no signs of fear or intimidation, both matching volume and matching the challenge when Hotspur proclaims “my name is Harry Percy” Here Hotspur is throwing his full weight into this little upstart of a prince. Telling him to fear his name, to the audience this is visually interesting as they are circling each other. Hotspur is just relishing the thought of destroying Hal; neither of these men appear fearing of each other Hal then tells Hotspur he is a “valiant rebel” once again showing the admiration he holds for his great nemesis.
Plus the fact he announces “Prince of Wales” with total pride so Hotspur and the audience can he is making a pure statement. Then after this Hal then goes on to say how they are “two stars” still full of respect. Also he claims that “England brook a double reign” proving that only one of these two is going out of here alive. This also makes the viewers aware that they are both fit kings. However by now they are glaring at one another prowling around hand on hilts ready to pounce. Now the audience can see how Hal and his adversary are equating each other.
Hotspur is wishing however being his impetuous self that Hal was as reputable as him. Now though Hal is on the edge of completing his total redemption in his soliloquy and is nearly “breaking through the foul and ugly mists”. Now however the lights should drop with the black curtain as battle commences between the two as Hal says metaphorically of how he is going to take Hotspurs honour for himself. The dimmed lights should just highlight the swords and armour glistening. The climactic fight itself should be quite evenly matched with Hotspur taken by surprise by Hal’s skills and maybe use some defensive manoeuvres to block Hal’s assault.
In the middle of this the lights will brighten to emphasise some comic relief as Falstaff clumsily stumbles into the middle of this slog, the absolute climax of the play and Falstaff is waving his sack in the air. However Douglas returns to challenge jack so he shows total cowardice and collapses to the floor. These actions emphasise the contrast between Hal’s new world of courage and honour and old world of manipulation, theft and being devious. The audience can see this as Hal is fighting clearly with a lot of valour in there as random gasps and groans are being emitted from the battle, and jack faking his death.
By now both young warriors are starting to tire as the odd nod of recognition of a good move comes in every now and again. But suddenly Hotspur fails to see an incoming swipe to his left side which causes him to collapse to the floor in defeat he has been “killeth” by the great Hal. Now the tone has moved to a much more sombre atmosphere created by total silence apart from Hotspurs dying groans and gasps for air Hal should then crouch down to remove Hotspurs helmet trying to comfort the dying warlord. Hal here is showing the utmost kingly respect not by gloating like Falstaff but recognising this mans achievements
So therefore now shall have supported Hotspurs head on Hal’s lap. Then in Hotspurs next few lines he tells of how he regrets the loss of honour more than the loss of his actual life “brook the loss… won of me” previously Hal has been able to imitate Hotspur in ability that emerges even more strongly when he beats him. Hotspur mortally wounded says “no Percy… food for” trailing off Hal picks up the very words out of Hotspurs mouth saying “for worms brave Percy” this shows how Hal has taken hotspurs qualities when defeating him, it is further telling because of the relationship between “worms” and “words”.
Hotspur is left as food for worms but he died because he lacked words which are Hal’s strongest asset. In finishing hotspurs sentence we can see how much respect Hal has for Hotspur and the audience can now see that with complete silence to let this incident set in with viewers. They can also see how Hal is now regretting killing him a little as maybe they could have formed a friendship. Now Hal should shroud Hotspurs face in feathers showing that he was an excellent warrior and being disloyal to the king cost him his life.
However now Hal wants all his shame and bad deeds “not remembered in thy epitaph” whilst Hal is saying about his past going down with Hotspur he should lay his sword down him then cross his arms over it then take a deep breath and pause to let this gigantic air of respect set in. After this Hal should elegantly stand, take a step back and nod like in the battle whilst acknowledging each other combat ability. As for jack Falstaff, Hal shall just walk past him while the stage lightens and subtly shake his head in utter disbelief of this man’s sheer cowardice.