Shakespeare’s talent as both a writer and a poet lead to his gift for character development, down to the last detail. Henry IV, Part One contains a variety of deep characters, two of which play key roles in the evolution of the concept of honor in the play. Falstaff and Hotspur symbolize opposing viewpoints concerning the main theme of the play – honor. At the time the play was written, honor was defined as “the special virtues which distinguish those of the nobility in the exercise of their vocation–gallantry in combat with a worthy foe, adherence to the accepted code of arms, and individual loyalty to friends, family, and comrades in arms” (Prior 14). Although honor is an important subject in the play, this is not to say that it can be found as an inherent quality in any of the characters. Where is the honor in peasants uprising against a usurper king whom they placed in office? The reader is invited to see honor through the eyes of either Falstaff or Hotspur. Hotspur’s pursuit of honor becomes obsessive to the point that he is blinded to everything that doesn’t pertain to his quest for honor. Falstaff holds the opposing viewpoint, concluding that honor is rejected due to its limitations on life and therefore must be seen as empty and valueless. To...
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...perception of honor.
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.
Wells, Stanley. Shakespeare: Life in Drama. New York: Norton & Company, 1995.
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