Henriad by Shakespeare

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Falstaff is often left out of the conversation or treated as an object when people discuss Shakespeare’s “Henriad.” The conversation has grown to include Falstaffian supporters and those who continue to objectify him. On the one hand, critics like Harry Berger, author of “The Prince’s Dog: Falstaff and the Perils of Speech-Prefixity,” argues that Falstaff’s concealed motives are only brought to light through the characters speech. On the other hand, critics like Robert Bell, author of “The Anatomy of Folly in Shakespeare’s “Henriad,” believes Falstaff to be a fool, but he believes him to be one of Shakespeare’s “Greatest Fools.” I find these critics to be in direct conversation with one another. They both attempt to consider Falstaff in the forefront of the text, along with Prince Harry; more specifically, how one interacts with the other through folly and speech. While I agree with some critics notions that Falstaff has flaws, I would argue that he is more than an object; he is pertinent to the success of the prince, and he must be considered as the subject; Falstaff is the catalyst through whom Prince Harry enjoys his indiscretions, sins, and follies without reprimand or any acceptance of responsibility. Falstaff and Prince Harry share the same mind, but this is only apparent through the folly and parody of Falstaff. Prince Harry is completely oblivious to the fact that he and Falstaff rest on either side of a double-headed coin allowing them to share a psychic link. I will show that Falstaff has knowledge of all of Prince Harry’s actions as well as his own downfall before it occurs through a close analysis of 1 Henry IV, act 1, scene 2. In the beginning of 1 Henry IV, the audience is introduced to Falstaff who appear... ... middle of paper ... ...taff must be in the dark and why he chooses to be in the dark. To stand a coin on its side and spin it equates to how quickly the lines between Falstaff and Hal are blurred in the “Henriad.” Also, that one side of the coin is in the light while the other is in the dark remains the life and thus the death of Falstaff. At the end of act 2 of scene 1, the coin has landed with Falstaff’s face down hence his exit; Harry’s side up hence his soliloquy. Works Cited Shakespeare, William. 1 Henry IV. The Norton Shakespeare. Gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2008. 606-672. Print. Bell, Robert. “The Anatomy of Folly in Shakespeare’s Henriad.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 14. 2 (2001): 181-201. Print. Berger, Harry. “The Prince’s Dog: Falstaff and the Perils of Speech-Prefixity.” Shakespeare Quarterly 49.1 (1998): 40-73. Print.

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