King Henry

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Sleep is precious to us. When we sleep, we escape reality for awhile and rest our minds and our bodies. Sleep is a necessity for all people and we falter without it. This particular soliloquy written by Shakespeare from Henry IV, Part II, King Henry is unable to sleep. His state of mind throughout the time during his inability to sleep is for the most part, frustration but also some jealousy, because others can sleep and he cannot.

The Soliloquy starts off with “How many thousand of my poorest subjects are at this hour asleep! O sleep! O gentle sleep!” This already reveals that he is awake and jealous of all his subjects because they are asleep and can sleep. The syntax in line two expresses his frustration. He repeats “O” twice when referring to sleep or “nature’s soft nurse”. He is suggesting that sleep is something grand and great just by addressing it with the “O”. Even the three exclamation points make sleep seem to be majestic and wonderful. The king sees sleep as a desirable, natural thing but something of which he cannot receive at the moment. In lines three through five, he cannot understand or make sense of why sleep will come to everyone else, except for him.

There are several images throughout this soliloquy where King Henry compares himself to his poorest subjects. He questions sleep itself and wonders why a great king like himself cannot get sleep while the poorest of the poor can. Lines six through eleven show his frustration with this bothering fact. He thinks that he is the greatest thing that ever lived because he is royal, wealthy and in control. But, the one thing that he has absolutely no control of is nature; more directly, sleep. In these lines, he is asking why sleep would want to dwell in poor “smoky cribs” and “uneasy pallets” when it could be in “perfum’d chambers of the great” and “lull’d with sound of sweetest melody”. This image shows that royalty and kings have nice things and poor people don’t, and that in itself...
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