Henry IV Act 3 Scene 2 as Predatory Business Practices

A Projection On Paper Short Story / Shakespeare Adaptation

The CEO of King Enterprises, Henry, had been discussing the ongoing crisis all day from his office. There was a knock at the door. “Gentlemen, if you will, wait outside for a moment,” Henry said. “I need to have a private conversation with our would-be air.” The men shuffled out, and Hal entered. Henry waited to speak again until the door closed and his employees were out of earshot.  “Sit down, Hal.” Hal sat. “I swear, I don’t know what sin I committed to deserve you, but clearly God means to punish me with the course of your life. You chase after gluttonous pleasure and are lewd and do such despicable things with those friends of yours. They’re thieves and thugs and now they are calling themselves equals with someone born of upper-class like you?”

Hal shrugged. “Well, I admit I’ve done some of the things you say in the past, but not all of that or now. Every great man gets into the National Inquirer. Look, if I can convince you that I’m not guilty of the things people are gossiping about me then at least forgive me for the things I did do in the past.”

“God’s the one you should be asking for forgiveness. You act nothing like your ancestors. Your behavior cost you your job here and I had to give it to your brother! In the eyes of the other employees here you’ve become a laughing stock. There was hope for you—a lot of hope, the promise that you showed with your business know-how could do a lot for you—but now it’s past and all anyone can see is your downfall. Just look at me. If I’d been so public and hung out with the common folk like you the news media would have stayed on Richard’s side. I’d never have gotten the company from him. Instead, when I did give an interview or appear in public, people wanted to hear about it and see me. I stayed just loud enough to be heard, and soon I had the spotlight without any bad press. But Richard, he sought out the same kinds of crowds that you’re spending time with now–the lower class. So he became so common place that it was like seeing the sun rise or a cuckoo in June. He was heard but no one listened. He lost his status by affiliating with them. And that’s what is going to happen to you, Hal, unless you clean up your act.”

His father’s lecture resonated with him. “I promise I’ll start behaving more like myself.”

“There is, of course, the reason I called you here. Percy’s new business chain could drive us into the red so he can buy us out.” Henry shook his head. “Honestly, I feel like he deserves this business more than you do. Just look at him. He’s managed to build a bit of an empire and employ countless men. He’s no older than you, and he already has so many people under his command. He doesn’t even have the benefit of your class. But why am I praising him? Hal, I swear, I’d half expect you to let him buy us out if you had any power here just to prove what a thug you are.”

“I’d do nothing of the sort. Look, I’ll beat him out for you. And when I do, you’ll be able to be proud of me. It’ll be the day when we buy him out with my command over the company. You know I have the skills to do it. He’ll have to fork over every last cent that he owns. And if God allows me to do all this then I hope my debts are repaid to you for my bad behavior.”

Henry scratched his chin. “A hundred thousand employees will be laid off by the time you’re done with them, I know this. I’ll give you significant control over the business. I trust your judgment to get us back in the black and take Percy down.”

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