HENRY IV

Sarah Kakiashvili

King Henry is lamenting about his inability to sleep. He speaks of
sleep as “nature’s soft nurse.” He doesn’t understand why this nurse that is
supposed to calmly put everyone to sleep will not allow him his rest. He says
referring to sleep “nature’s soft nurse, how have I frightened thee.” We can
see that he was bothered by something and that is why he could not sleep.
He says that he wonders why sleep will not “steep my eyes in forgetfulness?”
He wants sleep to let him forget whatever is bothering him.
The king complains that he doesn’t understand why sleep would rather
visit his poorest subjects and nurse them to sleep but sleep will not nurse the
king to sleep. He asks “Why rather, sleep, sliest thou in smoky cribs,... Than
in the perfumed chambers of the great, under the canopies of the costly
state...?” The king feels that he has so much comfort to offer sleep yet she
chooses to allow the poor subjects to sleep. He talks about a ship boy who
has to sleep in the midst of storms and all sorts of distractions. This boy is
about to die and sleep dwells with him. The king does not understand why
Sleep would not allow the king, who gives Sleep the calmest most
comfortable chambers, the ability to sleep so that he can forget what is
bothering him.
King Henry uses a haughty and complaining tone to express how he
feels. He feels that he is the king. He should therefore get what he wants.
He has all this money and comfort to offer anyone who does him a favor.
King Henry is used to getting whatever he wants due to his power, wealth,
and prestige. It seems by what the king said that his inability to sleep
bothered his ego more than his body. The theme in his words is that all the
poorest people can sleep but I, The King, can not. It is very hard for his ego
to swallow the fact that “nature’s soft nurse” is not impressed by the fact that
Henry is the King and she would rather allow the poor people to rest.
Finally the king faces the fact that the fact that he is king will not give
him the ability to sleep. He says “Then, happy low, lie down! Uneasy lies the
head that wears the crown.”
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