Falstaff's Role in Henry IV, Part One Essay

Falstaff's Role in Henry IV, Part One Essay

Length: 961 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Falstaff's Role in Henry IV, Part One

 
    Henry IV, Part One, has always been one of the most popular of

Shakespeare's plays, maybe because of Falstaff. Much of the early criticism

I found concentrated on Falstaff and so will I. This may begin in the

eighteenth century with Samuel Johnson. For Johnson, the Prince is a "young

man of great abilities and violent passions," and Hotspur is a "rugged

soldier," but "Falstaff, unimitated, unimitable Falstaff, how shall I

describe thee? Thou compound of sense and vice . . . a character loaded

with faults, and with faults which produce contempt . . . a thief, a

glutton, a coward, and a boaster, always ready to cheat the weak and prey

upon the poor; to terrify the timorous and insult the defenceless . . . his

wit is not of the splendid or ambitious kind, but consists in easy escapes

and sallies of levity [yet] he is stained with no enormous or sanguinary

crimes, so that his licentiousness is not so offensive but that it may be

borne for his mirth."

 

     Johnson makes three assumptions in his reading of the play:

 

     1. That Falstaff is the kind of character who invites a moral judgment

mainly that he can answer to the charge of being a coward.

     2. That you (the reader) can detach Falstaff's frivolity from the play

and it can exist for its own sake apart from the major theme of the drama.

     3. That the play is really about the fate of the kingdom, and that you

(the reader) do not connect Falstaff's scenes with the main action. This

means that the play has no real unity.

 

     Starting with Johnson's first assumption, I do agree with this. Any

discussion of Fa...


... middle of paper ...


...ributes to Hal's maturing process, and it does.

 

     In conclusion, every age of man has and will continue to judge

Falstaff's role based on the morals and the thinking of the day. His

frivolity is necessary to make the play amusing and interesting enough to

hold the reader's/viewer's attention. However, that Falstaff's scenes are

needed should go without question leaving the critics and us only to debate

his motivation and his tactics.

 

Works Cited

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.

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Free Henry IV Essays: The Character of Falstaff

- The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV The character of Falstaff, in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV Part One, serves as an emblem of frivolity and carelessness within a world filled with social and political significance. Falstaff scorns the world of politics and moral decisions in favor of existing from moment to moment. Though he dislikes this "other world", Falstaff realizes he must sometimes come in contact with it. Falstaff’s famous speech in lines 127-139 of Act V shows us how he regards the Prince’s world of honor and duty....   [tags: Henry IV Henry V Essays]

Free Essays
580 words (1.7 pages)

Falstaff's Influence on Prince Hal in I Henry IV Essay

- Falstaff's Influence on Prince Hal in I Henry IV     In Shakespearean histories, there is always one individual who influences the major character and considerably advances the plot.  In I Henry IV by William Shakespeare, Falstaff is such a character.  Sir John Falstaff is perhaps the most complex comic character ever invented.  He carries a dignified presence in the mind's eye; and in him,  we recognize our internal admiration and jealousy of the rebellious dual personality that we all secretly wish for....   [tags: Henry IV Henry V Essays]

Free Essays
1116 words (3.2 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Henry Iv : Part I Essay

- One of the most famous scenes in Henry IV: Part I is the scene in which Prince Hal and Falstaff put on a play extempore. This is often cited as the most famous scene because it is Hal’s turning point in the play. However, the scene is much more than that. The play extempore is a moment of prophecy, not epiphany because is cues the reader in to the play’s major themes, and allows readers to explore the possibilities of the play’s continuance. In his speech at the end of 1.2, Hal says that he is only spending time in the taverns and with misfits so that when he achieves glory, it will look even greater than it is....   [tags: William Shakespeare, Henry V of England, Henry V]

Strong Essays
1338 words (3.8 pages)

Honor in Henry IV, Part One Essay

- Honor in Henry IV, Part One     In Henry IV, Part One Shakespeare revels in the opportunity to suggest the idiosyncracy of character through his command of a wide range of both verse and prose. As a result the play is full of rich and different character parts (Wells 141). Two in particular, Falstaff and Hotspur, hold diverse beliefs concerning the main theme of the drama, honor. In Shakespeare’s time, 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)....   [tags: Henry IV Henry V Essays]

Strong Essays
2377 words (6.8 pages)

Relationship of Hal and Falstaff in Henry V Essay

- Relationship of Hal and Falstaff in Henry V The relationship between Hal and Falstaff is a very complex one. At first we think that as Falstaff is the older one of the two, that he would be the more mature and dominant one in the friendship, the one who leads Hal astray. However as the play develops we can see that Hal can actually look after himself and doesn't need Falstaff to supervise him. Later in the play we can see that Hal stops messing around and becomes more like a Prince rather than the type of character he has at the beginning....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
920 words (2.6 pages)

Analysis Of Henry Iv, Part 1 For A Rebellion Ending War Essay

- Two-Sided Rebellion Although the stage of Henry IV, Part 1 hosts preparations for a rebellion-ending war, William Shakespeare plots a far different story of family and responsibility. The universal themes created throughout the play suggest pertinent questions about the individual, as well as general, paths we take in life. The stage becomes a dinner table, where educative topics, such as freedom versus conformity, are discussed. Shakespeare’s clever use of parallel events connects the highest and lowest classes of society, allowing the reader to visualize different points of views....   [tags: William Shakespeare, Henry V, First Folio]

Strong Essays
704 words (2 pages)

William Shakespeare 's King Henry Iv Part 1 And The Rsc 's Play Essay

- Everyday, stepping into the world of literature we are constantly being manipulated to believe, feel and think differently. Our views being shaped in a the way composers wants us to view it. You don’t believe me. Well I believe that all representations of people and politics are acts of manipulation, it can be seen within the second tetralogy of the Shakespearean text “King Henry IV Part 1” and the RSC’s play within a play production. The very first scene of the play, the audience is introduced to King Henry speaking about how his son is rebellious and no good as the heir....   [tags: William Shakespeare, Henry V]

Strong Essays
1622 words (4.6 pages)

Why Shakespeare Created Falstaff in Henry IV Essay

- The character Sir John Falstaff played a crucial part in Shakespeare's Henry IV. Falstaff portrayed a side of life that was both brutal and harsh. This was important because, as Falstaff was, all the other main characters in the play were Nobles. Unlike Falstaff, the other nobles in the play acted as nobles. Falstaff, on the other hand acted more like the lower class people. In doing this he portrayed the thoughts and feelings of the lower class people. As he portrayed the lower class people, Falstaff brought the reader to think about the difference between a noble and lower class people....   [tags: William Shakespeare]

Strong Essays
849 words (2.4 pages)

William Shakespeare's Henry IV Essay

- Part I was written in 1597. This history play had begun to appear on the London stage around a decade before. The play gained such an enormous popularity, that Shakespeare produced a sequel to it - Henry IV - Part II . These two plays were very much amusing to the public, having many of the same characters, and are therefore usually discussed together by the critics. Shakespeare mainly tried basing most of his characters on real people, and later adapting them to their role....   [tags: Henry IV Essays]

Free Essays
2453 words (7 pages)

William Shakespeare's Henry IV Essay

- William Shakespeare's Henry IV In Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 2, the brilliant playwright introduces us to several complex and intricate themes, clever language, and a fascinating cast of multifaceted characters, including the thief Jack Falstaff, who may be as wise as his belly is big, and the young Prince Hal, who conceals his shrewd mind and physical prowess beneath a soiled reputation for “unthrifty” behavior. Perhaps the most dynamic character of the play is Hotspur, or Henry Percy, the idealistic rebel warrior, and Hal’s rival for power, glory, and the throne....   [tags: Shakespeare Henry IV 4 Essays]

Strong Essays
1971 words (5.6 pages)