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"Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of - for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear."
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King Henry IV Part 1
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Picking up after the battle of Shrewsbury, where PART 1 left off, the play opens with a personification of Rumor advertising the victory of the rebels, led by Hotspur. However, Rumor, an unreliable source, has got it all wrong: Prince Hal was victorious against the rebels, having slain the principal adversaries, including Hotspur himself, the son of Earl of Northumberland. When he finally gets the story straight, Northumberland renews the rebellion with vigor, which causes great stress to King Henry, detrimentally affecting his health and hastening his death. Prince Hal must learn to fill his shoes with grace and honor. And what should he do about the uproarious Falstaff? In handling the trespasses of his bawdy friend, Hal learns to be both just and merciful. Like part one, KING HENRY IV, PART 2 depicts life in court in contrast to life among the commoners of London.
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