Henry Iv Falstaff Essay Help

Falstaff's Role in Henry IV, Part One Essay

973 Words4 Pages

Falstaff's Role in Henry IV, Part One

Henry IV, Part One, has always been one of the most popular of

Shakespeare's plays, maybe because of Falstaff. Much of the early criticism

I found concentrated on Falstaff and so will I. This may begin in the

eighteenth century with Samuel Johnson. For Johnson, the Prince is a "young

man of great abilities and violent passions," and Hotspur is a "rugged

soldier," but "Falstaff, unimitated, unimitable Falstaff, how shall I

describe thee? Thou compound of sense and vice . . . a character loaded

with faults, and with faults which produce contempt . . . a thief, a

glutton, a coward, and a boaster, always ready to cheat the weak and prey

upon the poor; to…show more content…

No one can deny that he is

in fact a glutton and a thief. A coward is debatable. I choose to think he

is. He is self centered and cares only for his own profit and enjoyment. He

will protect himself at all costs including playing " possum" if necessary

to avoid injury. When he misuses the money intended to buy troops and

weapons, he turns it into profit for himself. Once again, with no concern

for anyone else, he potentially jeopardizes the troops, the battle and the

kingdom with substandard men and materials while making money for himself.

It makes the reader question, what kind of friend is he to Hal that he

would misuse the trust that has been given him. All the easier for Hal to

ultimately recognize that this is not the kind of person or people he wants

to associate himself with, let alone approve of.

Johnson's second assumption that you can detach Falstaff's frivolity

from the real drama is in fact true, but what would you have left? A less

interesting, less amusing drama with only one main plot. Falstaff is of

paramount importance to the sub-plot dealing with Hal's decision between

continuing his carefree life style or maturing into the role he is destined

to play as a respected prince and later king. This story would be pretty

dull if Hal didn't have to choose between an entertaining life like

Falstaff's or an honorable one as a gallant warrior and respected

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The Character Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV Essay

1088 Words5 Pages

The Character Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV

Sir John Falstaff has a number of functions in 1 Henry IV, the most obvious as a clownish figure providing comic relief. His many lies and exaggerations entertain because of the wit and cleverness he employs to save himself from paying debts and answering for crimes. He in many ways represents an everyman--a sinner with little shame or honor, who nonetheless maintains at least an outward concern for honor and appearances. "If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked! If to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damn'd. . . . [Banish the others] but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff . . . banish plump…show more content…

Hal and Falstaff's bantering and wit sparring is mirrored by Hotspur and Glendower in III.i. What the former do in jest; the latter do in earnest. Like Falstaff and his boasting, Glendower holds forth on the mythical portents of his birth and his powers to change the weather. Hotspur suffers the fool far from gladly. They eventually quarrel over their "moi'ty," and Hotspur shows himself to be utterly uncompromising on matters of principle and honor. "But in the way of bargain, mark ye me,/I'll cavil on the ninth part of a hair." He shows himself an unattractive character; his rigid insistence on points of "honor" is self- centered and self-destructive. (In fact, Shakespeare impales all the conspirators by showing them carving up England like a roast--no English audience could be sympathetic.)

In his instance on protecting his rights and honors, while at the same time engaging in the most egregious dishonor of rebelling against his sovereign king, Hotspur shows

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