William Shakespeare's Henry IV Essay

William Shakespeare's Henry IV Essay

Length: 1366 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Identify and discuss the two issues with which you feel William Shakespeare is asking his audience to wrestle with most in Henry IV, Part I. As you develop this response, comment on Shakespeare’s refusal to match any of his questions with essay answers. Comment also on the immediate relevance of these issues to those of our own day.
One of the great issues of Henry IV, Part I is summed up, but hardly concluded, by Sir John Falstaff at the end of the first scene in Act V. Falstaff, fearful of the coming battle, has just asked the prince to find him on the battlefield, to which Prince Henry replies, “Why, thou owest God a death” (V.i.126). Falstaff takes this opportunity to expound on the nature of honor. He repeatedly wonders what honor is good for: It doesn’t bandage wounds or perform as a surgery; it means nothing to a dead man. This runs contrary to Hotspur’s views on the matter, as the young man esteems honor as a virtue, and something to be earned on a battlefield or retained in the face of insult (perceived, implied, or otherwise). Furthermore, at the end of the second scene of the play, Prince Henry reflects on the façade he makes of his behavior to hide his intentions: He intends to become a great and honorable ruler, and surprise everyone by being so.
The difference in views on honor and the difference in ages between the characters is no accident. Hotspur and Henry are young; they believe that war is an answer. Falstaff is old and has seen the way the world works; he sees honor as an empty word given to a grieving widow or a fatherless child, or a meaningless incentive to go to war. Honor has become less of a widely discussed issue in our modern day setting, although it still holds some weight; more prevalent in discuss...


... middle of paper ...


...s father’s ire the next day. Falstaff is, characteristically, going on about his many (non-existent) virtues while role-playing as the Princ, while at the same time indirectly telling Prince Henry that he is his friend, and will always be so. It’s a scene in which Shakespeare employs wit in order to cover up the emotional undertones of the script. At the end of his speech, Falstaff says, “…old Jack Falstaff, as he is, banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish plump Jack, and banish all the world!” to which Prince Henry, in the character of his father, replies, “I do, I will” (II.iv.478-81). This is a well-known section of Henry the IV, not only because of the quick wit or hidden sincerity of Falstaff’s character, but also the foreshadowing of Prince Henry’s cold reply: In Henry the IV, Part II, Henry does banish his old friend.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on Father and Son Relationship in William Shakespeare's Henry IV and V

- Father and Son Relationship in William Shakespeare's Henry IV and V      Shakespeare deals with a parent-child relationship in the historical plays of Henry IV Parts One and Two in the characters of Henry Bullingsworth (Henry IV) and his son Hal (Prince of Wales, later Henry V). The fact stands clear in the development of the son, Hal: the son’s success in life is not dependent on his relationship to his father politically, but success is demonstrated when there is a realization of both parties on the level of parental love....   [tags: William Shakespeare Henry IV V Essays]

Powerful Essays
1864 words (5.3 pages)

Henry Viii, By William Shakespeare Essay

- ... Additionally, with no valid heir presented, it provided an opportunity for rivals to renew hostilities. When it became apparent that Catherine would not able to bear any more children due to her age, Henry soon tired of her and found interest in one of her maids, Anne Boleyn. He was infatuated with her and began courting her. Being a Catholic, there was no such thing as a divorce, so he demanded an annulment. The only person who could grant this was Pope Clement VII. Henry believed that the stillborns were a divine sign from God that marrying his brother’s widow was a sin....   [tags: Henry VIII of England, English Reformation]

Powerful Essays
1273 words (3.6 pages)

Henry's Speeches in William Shakespeare's Henry V

- Henry's Speeches in William Shakespeare's Henry V I will be writing about how Henry V wins the hearts of his men. Using, five main speeches that Henry V makes. I think that Henry won the hearts of his men by persuasion. Beforehand, I would like to apologize because I may talk about what ‘Henry’ says but I truly know this is what Shakespeare wrote. In the first speech the Dauphin presented Henry V with a set of tennis balls as a joke and insult....   [tags: Papers Henry V 5 Shakespeare Essays]

Powerful Essays
1339 words (3.8 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]

Powerful Essays
1971 words (5.6 pages)

William Shakespeare's Henry V Essay

- Henry V was one of the greatest kings in British History. His epic rise to power was captured for posterity in the writings of William Shakespeare in the play named for the king. Although a play, the story as told by Shakespeare was remarkably close to being historically accurate (Pilkington, 1997). This play was brought to the modern world in the film Henry V, which was written, directed by, and starred Kenneth Branagh in the title role as the young king (Branagh, 1989). Through the course of the movie, Branagh painted a powerful picture of the evolution of Henry from a young and perhaps rambunctious boy into the man who would be known as a powerful and fair monarch....   [tags: William Shakespeare]

Free Essays
1922 words (5.5 pages)

The Historical Accuracy of Henry V by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Historical Accuracy of Henry V                      Henry V, written by William Shakespeare, is by far one of his more historically accurate plays. This play is the life of young King Henry V, who ascended to the throne after his father, Henry IV's death. These times were much different for England, as Henry V was a noble lord whom everyone loved, whereas angry factions haunted his father's reign. Shakespeare portrays a fairly accurate account of the historical Henry V, but certain parts are either inflated"deflated, or conflated to dramatize Henry V as a character suitable for a Renaissance audience....   [tags: Henry IV Henry V Essays]

Powerful Essays
2126 words (6.1 pages)

Henry V by William Shakespeare Essay examples

- Henry V by William Shakespeare The play I will write about is Henry V by William Shakespeare was written in the time of Elizabeth I but refers to the events of 1415 when King Henry V led a war against the French. The play is the fourth in a series of history plays that Shakespeare wrote beginning with Richard II and continuing with Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. The two Henry IV plays chart the adventures of 'Prince Hal' who later becomes Henry V. Prince Hal did not stay in court and prepare to be a King but spent his time drinking in the Boar's Head Tavern with characters such as Pistol, Nym and Bardolph, who are in this play and Sir John Falstaff....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
1674 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on Comedy in I Henry IV and II Henry IV by William Shakespeare

- Comedy in I Henry IV and II Henry IV     In I Henry IV and II Henry IV, William Shakespeare brings together drama and comedy to create two of the most compelling history plays ever written. Many of Shakespeare's other works are nearly absolute in their adherence to either the comic or tragic traditions, but in the two Henry IV plays Shakespeare combines comedy and drama in ways that seem to bring a certain realism to his characters, and thus the plays. The present essay is an examination of the various and significant effects that Shakespeare's comedic scenes have on I Henry IV and II Henry IV....   [tags: Henry IV Henry V Essays]

Powerful Essays
2529 words (7.2 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)

Flashbacks in Henry V by William Shakespeare Essay

- Flashbacks in Henry V by William Shakespeare In Henry V there are three flashbacks, which help the audience understand Henry and the plot better. The three flashbacks are the scene with Henry and Falstaff, Henry and Bardolph, and the scene at the castle in England where there is a constant flow of images in which Henry is recollecting the past events in the movie. These three flashbacks display a great deal of information that the play did not give to its readers. The first scene was with Henry and Falstaff drinking and having a good time....   [tags: Free Essays]

Free Essays
424 words (1.2 pages)