Hal and Henry IV Essay

Published: 2020-02-25 20:01:30
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Throughout Henry IV part 1 the character of Hal becomes more and more complex. It is frequently changing in numerous essential aspects. It is evident that there are two main relationships he has, one with his father Henry IV and the other with Falstaff. Hal seems to struggle to sustain a good relationship with both of them at the same time and therefore enters a realm in which he oscillates from one to another. The relationships he has with these two can have powerful similarities at times, however at other times they seem most controversial.

Falstaff is a long term friend of Hal and can almost be considered as a father figure to him. In fact, Shakespeare decides to make him act as Hals father at one point which could be considered as a true representation of their relationship; Shakespeare is in fact trying to show that maybe this is how it should be. Falstaff saying that ¦This chair shall be my state, this dagger my/sceptre, and this cushion my crown. (2.4.312-313) is giving him the role of king, and thus the role of Hals father.

A father is supposed to be a loving character and it is expected that the son will follow in a likewise manner. This is portrayed in Henry IV part 1 because Hal seems to emulate Falstaff in several things he does, this is especially palpable in Act 1 scene 2 when Hal agrees to ¦go with thee¦ (1.2.152) to the robbery at Gads Hill, precisely like Falstaff. Hal accepts Falstaff as his father when he says Do thou stand for my father¦ (1.2.64), meaning that Falstaff actually is like a father to Hal. Falstaff is a substitute father to one that Hal never managed to please. However, though this may seem apparent, it is quite likely that Hal is actually playing along with Falstaff, but keeping his distance. This is made flagrant through Hals reformation which is planned from the start.

Falstaff and Hal have a strong relationship from the start of the play and it is somewhat obvious that Falstaff is Hals entertainer. Through the way that these two speak to each other the spectators can acknowledge a powerful bond. Frequently, comments like ¦I prithee, sweet wag¦ (1.2.12) occur between them showing that they are comfortable speaking together and that they have acquired a firm companionship. Furthermore, in the scene after the robbery at Gads Hill in which Hal, Poins and Falstaff contemplate the robbery (especially 2.4.175-205), it seems to take a very long time for Falstaff to grasp that it was Hal and Poins who robbed him.

Hal and Poins discuss how Falstaff failed to get the money from the robbers, therefore Falstaff reluctantly plays on with them to show them that he is powerful and had to out-muscle several men. Yet by looking at the previous and subsequent scenes it becomes rather clear that Falstaff is a clever individual and that it cannot be true that he did not understand what happened at Gads Hill. Therefore, could Falstaff be playing along at this point just for Hals entertainment and resultantly taking his role as a comedian? Throughout the play it is therefore acknowledged that Falstaffs true aim is to make the future king happy; this could be for two vital reasons; he truly wants Hal to be happy or he is trying to secure a firm relationship with the future king for his own benefit.

However, soon Hal mentions ending his relationship with Falstaff. During their mock role-play Falstaff (pretending to be Hal) tells Hal (pretending to be Henry IV) to ¦Banish/plump Jack, and banish all the world. Then Hal replies to Falstaffs jovial speech I do, I will (2.4.397-399). These short snappy words give an insight that maybe what Hal is saying he actually means, maybe Hal will discard Falstaff due to the new found light of his reformation, and maybe that kingship should come before this dwindling relationship. Hal will discard Falstaff as can be seen from his soliloquy. When Hal decides to make himself ¦like bright metal on a sullen ground, (1.2.172) he knows that he can use Falstaff to portray Hals ghastly past but then shine like a star as he bursts into kingship. It is for this reason and this reason only that Hal may wish to keep this relationship with Falsftaff, thus using him for his own benefit.

Moreover, not long after Hal calls Falstaff a ¦villainous abominable misleaders of youth,¦ which once again is part of the so called role play but could in fact be the revelation of the truth. It may seem that Hal sees Falstaff as an obstruction on his path to glory however Hal is actually using Falstaff to make himself look bad and then have this sudden reformation and make himself look so much better. So instead he is in fact using Falstaff as a stepping stone across the deep and difficult river, known as the public eye.

This is the very reason why Falstaff is trying so hard to maintain a companionship with Hal, only to steal his glory. This happens towards the end of the play when Falstaff betrays Hal. Falstaff lies that he killed the gallant Hotspur (1.1.52), not Hal. This can be seen when Hal says For my part, if a lie do thee grace (5.5.148). This has made it very possible and almost inevitable that Falstaff is in search for more honour, this source could indeed be Hal, Falstaffs supposed friend.

Henry IV and Hal have a very convoluted and changing relationship. From the very beginning of the play it seems exceptionally manifest that Henry IV is a callous and unloving father and that his priorities lie not in his family but rather in himself and therefore his country. Henry IV is envious of Northumberland that he Should be a father to so blest a son (1.1.79). It is difficult to believe that a father does not love his only son as much as he does another person. Even if he did have these malicious judgments, it is still irregular that he tells it to other people so candidly in such a way. Henry IV is consequently disregarding Hal as part of his family at all and showing signs of hatred towards him.

This reaches the extent that Henry IV actually wishes that he would ¦have his Harry, and he mine¦ (1.1.89), so not only is the king disappointed with his son but he would rather trade him for another. This will make Hal feel less happy with his own father and wish to seek this love from another, even Falstaff. The king is not giving his son a chance to prove himself and is seeing ¦riot and dishonour¦ (1.1.84) in him.

On the other hand, Hal has a lot of respect for his father and later tries to achieve a stronger relationship. Hal calls his father his ¦thrice-gracious lord, (3.2.93) showing a lot of respect and nobility. In addition, Hal tells his father ¦I am your son, (3.2.134), never before has Hal considered himself as a son to his father or as his characteristics worthy of a son. This is apparent when Hal tells his father that wherein [his]¦youth/Hath faulty wandered (3.2.26-27) thus admitting his mistakes and that he has not made his father proud. He is therefore agreeing that he has not shown qualities worthy of a son and that maybe that he had never really considered himself to be one.

These few words truly stand out amongst the rest that Hal will show his father the respect he deserves and that he will strengthen this relationship between them. Hal is trying to mend his mistakes while leaving Falstaff behind at the same time because he considered Falstaff as one of these mistakes. This scene in particular is a very crucial scene in the bonding relationship between father and son. Hal comes forward to his father and confesses of the wrongs he has done and appeals for redemption from his father. This scene can almost be visualised with Hal down on his knees and his father sitting on high throne by his side. This is the exact moment in the play when the relationship between Hal and Henry IV is restored. It is difficult to hear advice and more difficult to accept it yet Hal does so, not with Falstaff but with Henry IV.

Nevertheless, it takes two to make a relationship work and this cannot be done by Hal alone, his father also needs to show equal respect to him. We find that Henry IV cares a great deal for his son, more than we had ever thought from previous scenes (like Act 1 scene 1). Henry IV continually gives Hal greatly needed advice of how As thou art this hour was Richard then (3.2.94), he warns him of how he should avoid being like Richard, the unsuccessful king was. He warns him with his true care that if he is not to show his kingly features Hotspur could easily take the throne away from him.

This advice Henry gives with his true care for Hal, with fear of Hals future. Additionally, Henry IV tells Hal things he would only ever tell someone truly near him. This is evident when Henry IV says Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes, (3.2.122). By Henry IV telling this to Hal he is showing Hal this respect he has for him and that he too is willing to make this relationship work out. This scene truthfully shows a father and son in a relationship as they ought to be.

Therefore, Hal and Falstaff once had a powerful relationship with one another in which Falstaff was a benevolent figure, but it seems that Hal is trying to destroy this relationship and force it to deteriorate because of this kingship he needs to tend to. Despite how strongly Falstaff may try to maintain their relationship it always seems to be falling apart. Furthermore, Falstaff is not actually trying to be Hals acquaintance but instead is trying to steal his glory. Similarly, the relationship with his father is very week to start. The king is very openly disgusted in his son and would prefer not to have him at all. However, later on in the play their relationship becomes much stronger, they have found faith in one another, the father has given the needed advice and the son has submissively accepted it. It seems that there has been a shift from Falstaff to Henry, as Hals relationship with Falstaff deteriorated his relationship with his father has progressed.

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