In Shakespeare’s The First Part of King Henry IV, several characters emerge as potential leaders of England. Although the ruling ability of King Henry is touched upon in the play, the principal focus is on the abilities of Prince Hal, Falstaff, and Hotspur. As these characters are examined, a picture of what Shakespeare considers to be a good ruler emerges. The first of these three characters that the reader encounters is Prince Hal. In this initial moment Hal appears an irresponsible joker, carousing with Falstaff and making snide remarks about his companion’s laziness (I.ii.3) and fondness for wine (I.ii.2). Hal’s fun-loving makes him seem, in his father’s eyes, unworthy of his title (III.ii.86-88). But right away, through Hal’s words, a different picture emerges. He is honest; he refuses to take part in Falstaff’s robbery scheme (I.ii.108). Hal is also clever. He understands how to create a good image for himself in the public eye. Hal explains that his roguishness is simply meant to be a contrast to his valiant actions in the future. When he ceases his “loose behavior” (I.ii.163) and takes responsibility for the welfare of the common good, the people will admire his ability to change and reform himself. Hal sees the benefit in doing what is not expected of him (I.ii.152-172). Hal has made a connection with the lowest of the British class system. He has “sounded the very bass string of humility,” (II.iv.5) and it has provided him with a unique outlook: he has the ability to see the points of view of people in both extremes of society. The fact that he would be “sworn brother” (ii.iv.6) to the poorest and commonest of people shows his true appreciation for everyone—not just those who have something to offer. It also demonstrates his shrewd political sense: he will have less opposition as king if he achieves popularity with the entire kingdom, from the top of the social ladder to the very bottom. Perhaps the most important characteristic of Hal’s is his true courtesy. When the sheriff comes looking for Falstaff because of the money he stole, Hal protects his friend. He then decrees that the “money shall be paid back again with advantage.” (II.iv.445). The interest seems to be a delicate apology for the victims’ misfortune. Another example of Hal’s courtesy occurs at the end of the play. He has just killed Hotspur and joined his brother John when Falstaff limps up, lugging Hotspur’s dead body. Falstaff claims to have killed Hotspur. Initially Hal protests: “Why, Percy I killed myself and saw thee dead.” (V.iv.138). Falstaff explains that neither he nor Hotspur was dead, and that they both arose from their faints and fought. Whether Hal believes this story or not, he says nothing more about it and allows Falstaff to be recognized for Hotspur’s defeat. Why does Hal do this, after what he went through to make himself look good? Perhaps he realized that he had accomplished his goal, and that the honor from killing Percy benefited Falstaff more than it did him. Hal’s drawback, however, is the influence of his friend Falstaff, who presents a rather dishonest picture of what a king should be. Falstaff himself is an intriguing character. Far from the honesty and courtesy of his friend Hal, he seems to take a more practical view of power. He says that he is governed by the moon, a quality of whom is movement back and forth (perhaps a metaphor for changing one’s views depending on the circumstances?) (I.ii.22-27). He also tells Hal outright that refusal to take part in the robbery is a poor reflection on his ability to rule: “There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee, nor thou camest not of the blood royal, if thou darest not stand for ten shillings.” (I.ii.109-111). “Standing for ten shillings” might represent the risks and dares Falstaff believes a man must take to be a good and effective ruler. This outlook is antithetical to Hal’s intrinsic honesty and courtesy.
November 30 2014
Henry IV Part 1
Prince Henry is the successor; next in line to take the thrown after his father King Henry the IV. William Shakespeare illustrates Prince Henry’s transformation from a rebellious youth to a noble man, ready to become king. The beginning of the play portrays Prince Henry as an immature youth who participates in banter, drinking and thievery. He is not well thought…
January 9, 2015
Who is Shakespeare?
“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them”(goodreads). William Shakespeare is said to be one of the most popular idolized English authors. He has created some of the most relevant plays and poems which are still important today. Many of the things he portrayed in his writings were thought to be from his life experience. Shakespeare has lead the way for modern authors…
Imagine living in a world that had no rules, no limits, and no worry. This was the life of a young man who was soon to heir the throne of England. In Henry IV, part 1 by William Shakespeare, Prince Hal, the immature two-faced cowerd is waiting for his father King Henry IV's time as king to end, in order to take the throne. Prince Hal goes on throughout his life being a rascal and abusing the power that comes by position. Hal uses his persuasive gestures to show people how good of a person he seems…
* Maybe like a rabbits foot thatll keep me safe or it could be boastful item of pride
* Belt shows they are member of group
* Moral or story – be ashamed and humble, because we are all mortal and can mess up
* Divine right of kings – attitude toward kingship that is natural, inevitable, and sanctioned by god. Above law. Godly presence. Kings will is the law. Sun is king of planets, its best one. Lion is king of beasts, associated with kingship and…