The Transformation of Hal in Shakespeare's Henry IV

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The Transformation of Hal in Henry IV

In Shakespeare's Henry IV, the character Hal, the Prince of Wales,

undergoes a transformation that can be characterized as a redemption.

Shakespeare introduces Hal, in the opening act as a renegade of the Court. His

avoidance of all public responsibility and his affinity for the company of the

Boar's Head Tavern, have caused serious concern for the King, because Hal is

heir to the throne. The King realizes that to keep order, a ruler and his heir

must prove to be both responsible and honorable; from the outset Hal possesses

neither quality. The King even testifies to his own advisor, that he would have

rather traded Hal for Hotspur, the son of the Earl of Northumberland. In the

King's eyes Hotspur, not Hal, is the "theme of honor's tongue" (1.1. 80),

because he has won his glory through his merits in war. Thus, Shakespeare has

set Hal and Hotspur in opposition: Hal, the prodigal prince, versus Hotspur,

the proper prince. Hal understands that he has been branded with the label,

"truant to chivalry,"(5.1. 95) and as the heir to the throne, he realizes that

it is imperative that he redeem himself not only for himself, but also for his

father and his people because life will not always be a holiday , for "If all

the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as work" (1.2. 211-

212). However Hal needs some type of strength to make his realization come true.

Luckily Hal's father, the King is willing to lend several comments that enrage

him and provide him with the necssary motivation. It also seems that

Shakespeare has included the foil for Hal, the vali...

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...o someday rule the nation.

Works Cited and Consulted

Barber, C.L. "Rule and Misrule in Henry1V." William Shakespeare: Histories and Poems. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 143-167.

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.

Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. Ed Stephen Greenblatt, et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.

Shakespeare, William. 1Henry IV. In The Norten Anthology of English Literature. Eds. M.H. Abrams et all. 5th Ed. New York: Norton, 1987.
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