It is interesting to compare the relations between older and younger men in Henry IV and As You Like It. This essay will consider two extracts; 1 Henry IV, 2.4.109-62 (Bevington ed., pp. 182-6) and As You Like It, 2.3.27-77 (Brissenden ed., pp. 131-3). The two extracts differ dramatically in their approach to the relations between older and younger men.
In summary, the As You Like It scene is serious and moving, conducted in verse, concerned with issues of faithfulness, and uses Biblical references for metaphors. The scene from Henry IV is humorous, conducted in prose, concerned with betrayal and falsehood, (even if it is set in a farcical context,) and refers to common sayings in its metaphors and oaths. Both scenes examine the comparison of an old world to the new, to different levels of significance. The potential exists in both scenes to perform them in opposition to the audiences expectations - comic elements could be introduced into the As You Like It scene, and the Henry IV scene could be darkened in places.
The extract from Henry IV is conducted in prose throughout; its use can be allotted by social distinction, for superior characters to inferiors, or it can be used by one of high status to another, as a calculating insult. In this case though, it is appropriate for the surroundings of the Eastcheap tavern, and is used among persons of varying status to express their friendship. Hal effectively moves between the prose world of Eastcheap and the noble world of exalted blank verse. The use of prose in the tavern is simply a different register and does not necessarily make it an inferior form; Falstaff's prose often seem...
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... Hal and Poins, yet approaches the same topic as the As You Like It extract.
In conclusion, Henry IV's use of prose indicates its humorousness and the friendship between characters of different social status. As You Like It shows this too, yet it's verse displays a more formal tone. It has been shown that both extracts can display sentiments contrary to audience expectations - the comic incorporates darkness, the sombre has the potential for humour. The Biblical allusions in this extract are replaced with comic oaths from Falstaff in Henry IV. Both extracts are linked by their examination of old and new world values.
Shakespeare, W. (1998). Henry IV Part I. (c. 1598) D. Bevington (Ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press
Shakespeare, W. (1998). As You Like It. (c. 1600) A. Brissenden (Ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press
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