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Henry IV Essay, Research Paper

The father and son relationship is one of the

most important aspects through the youth of a

young man. In Shakespeare?s play Henry IV, he

portrays the concept of having "two fathers".

King Henry is Hal?s natural father, and Falstaff is

Hal?s moral father. Hal must weigh the pros and

cons of each father to decide which model he will

emulate. Falstaff, who is actually Hal?s close

friend, attempts to pull Hal into the life of crime,

but he refuses. Hal seems to lack honor at the

commencement of the play, but near the end we

see him display a different kind true honor which

will be explained more in depth. Hal also shows

his honor when he rejects the requests put forth

by his good friend Falstaff and sides with his

natural father to fight loyally. Even though Henry

views Hal as an unworthy candidate for the

thrown, Hal proves him wrong by displaying

attributes that are very honorable.

In King Henry?s point of view, Hal doesn?t seem

much like an heir to his thorwn. Instead of living

at the court to aid his father govern England, he

frolics in the Taverns of Eastcheap with a group

of petty thieves. There are two different views

that the audience can perceive as to why Hal

constantly goes to the Tavern. Firstly, it might be

so that he can escape his responsibilities. Second,

it could be so that Hal can learn the lives of the

people that he will eventually be governing.

Depending on which one you believe, it will

show your own decision as to whether you

conceive Hal as being responsible and honorable

or vice versa. Falstaff who seems to be Hal?s role

model while in the Tavern, is putting forth a great

deal of effort to have Hal conform into the

lowlife that he himself has made himself out to

be. Falstaff teaches Hal how to lie, cheat, and

steal, but Hal seems to have a mind of his own.

He tells his father that at any given moment he

can change his character and be what his father

wants him to be. Henry declines to believe these

statements.

Before the final battle Falstaff asks for Hal?s

protection. Hal?s response is, "Say thy prayers,

and farewell. Why, thou owest God a

death"(5.1.124-126). This statement gives the

impression that Hal has had a change of heart. In

Act 5.2, Hal shows a different kind of honor

when he attempts to take away all of Hotspur?s

honor. Hal isn?t as interested in gaining honor for

its own sake as he is in forcing Hotspur to render

up all of his. This scene displays how Hal is

honorable for himself and for himself only. Hal

and his true father go into battle versus Hotspur

and his father Douglas. Just when King Henry is

cornered, Hal comes to the rescue and then kills

Hotspur. This immediately gives Henry a change

of heart, and for the first time, he is proud of his

son.

As shown in this paper Hal is only honorable to a

certain extent. He is dishonorable at the beginning

of the play by stealing for fun, but he changes his

ways and finds his true self by the end of the

play. He shows true honor in the final act of the

play by finally realizing that the right thing to do

is to stick with his "real" family, and not put your

friends before your blood.

Shakespeare, William. Henry the Fourh: Part

One. Ed. M.A. Shaaber. New York: Kingsport

Press Inc., 1957.


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