Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Michael McCanles


To open and close a play with images of rumor surely indicates that the author is calling attention to it. In 2 Henry IV, Shakespeare begins his play with rumor costumed as a personage painted over with tongues and metaphorically compared to a pipe, "...blown by surmises,...conjectures...," so easily played that anyone can play on it. Similarly, as the play concludes, Prince John speaks of rumor, comparing it to a bird, associating the flying and the singing of the bird with the rapid movement and sound of spreading rumor. In the intermediate scenes are numerous references, not only to rumor, but to expectation of the future, surmise, suspicion, opinion, and misinterpretation, all of which seem to be related.

The problem of this paper, then, is to analyze these themes and to show how they throw light on the meaning of 2 Henry IV.