An exploration of Shakespeare Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:56
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In King Henry the Fourth Part One Hal is a very intriguing character, also being the most complicated and detailed. He has a gradual journey throughout the play to becoming a king and reveals himself bit by bit to the audience and other characters. It is with this in mind that I will start to study and analyse the main features of Hal, his relationships with the other characters in the play and how the opinion that others have of him and how he actually is differ from each other.

By the time that Henry the Fourth Part one was being performed, the character of Hal had already been established. He is mentioned by King Henry, his father, in Richard the Second and his opinion of him doesnt appear to be that good, with him asking the court, can no-one tell me of my unthrifty son? (Richard II, Act 5, Scene 3, line 1) Hal is portrayed as this prodigal son who keeps company with loose and unrestrained companions (Richard II, Act 5, Scene 3, line 7), frequently being seen in taverns and being everything a future king shouldnt be.

He is closely associated with a character named Sir John Falstaff, and it is this man who appears to be the one misleading Hal. Hal is mentioned again in the very first scene of King Henry IV Part One and yet again he is being slandered by his own father. However this time he is also being compared to someone else. This is the first time he being compared in the play, but it is not the last as throughout the play Hal is constantly being compared to someone else. Normally that someone is a character called Hotspur, a fine warrior who is courageous, honourable and truthful.

Yet this is only Hotspurs view of honour as the different characters in this play each have their own view. Hotspur believes that honour is being able to fight and win in battle. Everything militaristic to him is seen as honourable while Hal has a different view, believing honour is pretending to be something hes not and becoming a better king for it. Unfortunately King Henry does not see Hals honour while Hotspur is everything that King Henry would like Hal to be. It is in this first scene that Hal is being compared to Hotspur.

King Henry is so disappointed in his son that he wishes that he could have Hotspur as his son instead, O that it could be provd that some night-tripping fairy had exchangd in cradle-clothes our children¦ (Henry IV Part One, Act 1, Scene 1, line 86) This gives the audience even further cause to believe that Hal is this rebellious prince who doesnt want the burden of being king. This is carries into the next scene where the audience meet Hal for the first time. He is with his friend Falstaff who is recovering from drinking and eating too much.

They carry on discussing plans to rob some travellers on their way to the kings exchequer and spend the money in the tavern. This seems to show that Hal has a complete disregard for his father and doesnt mind stealing money from him. His friend Poins then enters and they discuss plans to play a joke on Falstaff and once he has stolen the money, they will steal the money from him. This again goes to show that Hal appears to be mischievous and always ready to play practical jokes. Yet at the end of the scene he has an important soliloquy which shows the audience that he isnt bad at all.

He claims to see himself like the sun and that he will one day emerge from the clouds that surround him and become a great king, but until then he will uphold the company he keeps and keep pretending to act badly to make his reformation even more impressive. This is the first sign that Hal is not at all that he seems to be. In Henry IV Part One, Hal is the only one who changes throughout the play and realises he has to. This soliloquy also shows that there are big differences from how people view Hal and how he actually is, a factor that changes the play later.

Henry seems desperate to change Hal and this could be because he feels guilty about overthrowing the true king and wants the line of Bolingbroke to last longer than one or two generations. This is mentioned in Hals soliloquy through the line, And pay the debt I never promised (Act 1, Scene 2, line 206). This shows that he understands what he must do but he could easily behave badly as he never promised to undertake such a task, a form of honour that people dont see. After Hal has played the practical joke on Falstaff, they meet again in the tavern.

At some point in the scene, Hal receives news that he is due to go to war against rebels challenging his fathers crown. In preparation for Hal meeting his father, Falstaff and Hal perform a strange role play, taking turns to play King Henry and Hal, When Hal plays himself, Falstaff being the comic relief in the play, acts the part of King Henry. Whilst pretending to be Henry, Falstaff asks Hal not to keep company with his current friends, apart from himself. Hal does not answer the question but asks to play his father instead.

As Falstaff is now pretending to be Hal, he again says to the king that Falstaff is honourable and should not be banished. Hal then starts to insult Falstaff, saying he is a villainous abominable misleader of youth (Act 2, Scene 5 line 467). Falstaff then seems to plead directly with Hal, rather than act to the crowd around them, asking him not to banish Falstaff and then finally ending with the lines, banish plump Jack and banish all the world (Act 2, Scene 5, line 485). Hals response shows another progression in his journey towards becoming king and it can be taken in different ways.

He answers I do, I will, which could be broken into two separate parts. The I do could be seen as playing along with the rest of the practical joke, saying that King Henry would banish Jack, while the I will part shows that Hal may be considering getting rid of FalstaffalHal . He shows that he still needs him but when the time comes he will be ready to banish him and acknowledges that he will have to be rid of him to become a good king. All through this time of King Henry undermining Hal, the two characters have not been seen together in the plays.

In Act III Scene II they finally meet because of the war with Hotspur and the other rebels. Henry immediately launches into a verbal attack on his son, asking whether God has decided to punish him for the bad things he has done. Hal uses this meeting to try and redeem himself in his fathers eyes, trying to prove himself. He says that if he could he would clear all the offences against his name. Henry still doesnt believe him and compares him to King Richard, whom he calls the skipping King.

He also says that Richard mingled his company with capring fools (Act 3, Scene 2, line 63); something that Hal does, and explains what happened to him, warning Hal might turn out like that is he doesnt mend his ways. Hal then repeats a line from his soliloquy which hols important meaning, I shall hereafter¦ be more myself (Act 3, Scene 2, line 92). This is the turning point in which Hal starts to change, emerging as his true self, proving to his father that he can and has changed, and in doing this he gains acceptance from his father.

It is not just King Henry who has low opinions of Hal. Hotspur underestimates Hal throughout the play, even when Hal has emerged as his true self and has proven himself to be a mighty prince, calling Hal the nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales (Act 4, Scene 11, line 95). This shows Hotspurs stubbornness and the main difference between him and Hal. They are both honourable and brave, but unlike Hotspur, Hal recognises his faults and is always striving to improve. He realises he has to take on the best qualities of each person. A good example of this is when Hal has slain Hotspur in battle.

Hal seems to change in some way; he adopts Hotspurs style of speaking, a very distinctive military based and descriptive way of speaking. Hotspur dies whilst speaking to Hal and as he dies Hal finishes off his sentence for him, showing him he has already began to change and taken on the best characteristics of Hotspur. Hal has many different relationships in the play, with one of the most prominent being his connection with Falstaff. Falstaff is the comic relief of the play and when combined with Hal they seem to bounce off one another making fun of each another and being able to take and make a joke.

This is one of the first uses of statement and counter-statement which is used in comedy today. It is this sort of action that leads you to believe that Falstaff and Hal seem to have some kind of connection. As King Henry seems to show in the early stages of the play, he doesnt think of Hal as his son. Hal knows this as he is aware of what people think of him (shown in his first soliloquy) and so Falstaff seems to act as an alternative father figure. Despite what Hal says about banishing Falstaff in Act II Scene V, he needs Falstaff around as he still needs to learn from him.

He still has need for him as he is still not ready to become king. You also get the impression that Falstaff is very fond of Hal and in some way or another, needs him near him. Again this is shown in the role play mentioned earlier, with Falstaff seemingly begging Hal not to banish him, despite it being a joke. This is not the action of a funny old man who seems to rule the tavern. This shows that Hal and Falstaff seem to have a connection on some deeper level, and in some degree they may share some affection for each other.

Several times in the play Falstaff comments on how Hal loves him and needs him, Ah, no more of that, Hal, and thou lovest me (Act 2, Scene 5, line 286). Hal also seems to have a strange relationship with Hotspur, although they never seem to speak so much. At the beginning of the play, they both seem to hold each other in contempt, with Hotspur dismissing Hal as a bad prince and a slacker who would prefer to spend more time in a tavern rather than the battlefield, something Hotspur cant understand.

Hal on the other hand seems to make fun of how Hotspur is completely obsessed with war. Even though Hal knows at this stage that he will one day have to take on traits of Hotspur he still knows that he is not yet of Percys mind, the Hotspur of the North (Act 2, Scene 5, line 102) and from there he proceeds to make fun of him, declaring how he would kill six or seven Scots before breakfast and then complain to his wife about how he hated having such a quiet life. This becomes different later in the play after Hal has started to change.

Before the battle has begun and people are negotiating between the two camps, Hal says that to stop the war he would have a single fight with Hotspur to resolve the matter. This demonstrates how much Hal has changed as earlier in the play he does not appear ready to take on someone like Hotspur, yet he is willing to fight him. He also praises him very highly, saying he does not think that a braver, more daring, bolder man is alive. This again is the difference in Hal, his attitude has matured and he has become courteous and princely and he acknowledges now that Hotspur is more than his equal.

Hotspur on the other hand still mocks Hal and does not appear to listen to any praises or warnings given against Hal. This shows again how Hal appears to be the only one in the play who can change and control his destiny. In conclusion Hal is presented in King Henry the Fourth Part One as a moral character. He proves to people that you can change and become what you want or have to, no matter what people think of you. I think that he is also there to show how stubborn and single-minded people can be and he is there to emphasise this fact even more with how he can change and they cant. otspHoHH.

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