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Essay on Hotspur as Tragic Hero of Henry IV

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Hotspur as Tragic Hero of Henry IV

 
  In Shakespeare's Henry IV Part One, the characters' many different conceptions of honor govern how they respond to situations.  Each character's conception of honor has a great impact on the character's standing after the play.  For instance, Falstaff survived because he dishonorably faked his own death, and his untrue claim that he was the one who killed Hotspur may get him a title and land.  On the other hand, Hotspur lies dead after losing a duel for honor.  Hotspur, who is in many ways the ideal man by the standards of his time, is killed by his lust for honor.  In creating Hotspur, Shakespeare has created a variation on the tragic hero of other works: the stubborn tragic hero, who, dying for his fault of honor, does not at last understand his weakness.

 

            The fault of the classic tragic hero, hubris, is very similar to Hotspur's need for honor.  While hubris is excessive pride, the quest for honor can be viewed as the quest ( of the proud ) to get more titles and accolades, more things to be proud of.  In addition, Hubris and honor drive their victims to ultimate failure in a similar manner: Oedipus is driven to find out the truth about his origins by his own pride just as Hotspur is driven by his need for honor to fight against the odds.  Each fault is as inevitably dooming as the other: the quest for honor leads to greater and greater risks taken for greater and greater honors, and hubris leads to the acceptance of greater and greater risks as the proud hero cannot back down.  Thus Hotspur's need for honor is similar failing to hubris, giving him that characteristic of the tragic hero.

 

            Hotspur's standing in his society is very high: he is ...


... middle of paper ...


...peare from other writers of the Elizabethan period and made his writings exceptional.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

 

Bloom, Harold. Henry IV, Part One: Bloom's Notes. New York: Chelsea House, 1996.

 

Cruttwell,Patrick. Hernry IV. Shakespeare For Students, Vol. II. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1999.

 

Kantor, Andrea. Henry IV, Part One. London: Baron's Education Series, Inc, 1984.

 

Princiss, G.M. Henry IV Criticism. Shakespeare For Students, Vol.II. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1999.

 

Prior, Moody E. The Drama of Power: Study in Shakespeare's History Plays. Shakespeare For Students, Vol. II. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1999.

 

Shakespeare, William. Henry IV, Part One, Penguin Books, Lim, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England. 1987.

 

Wells, Stanley. Shakespeare: Life in Drama. New York: Norton & Company, 1995.

 


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