Essays Henry Iv Part 1

Henry IV, Part I: Essay Topics

1) Some argue that honor is the central theme of the play. Do you agree, and, if so, why?

2) Discuss the development of the comedic subplot and how it relates to the overall play.

3) Analyze the complex character of Prince Hal. What are his intentions? What are his motives? To discuss fully this topic you can and should make reference to Hal as we find him in Henry IV, Part II, and in Henry V.

4) Discuss the leadership abilities of Hotspur.

5) Hotspur laments: " were an easy leap/To pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon/Or dive into the bottom of the deep/Where fathom-line could never touch the ground/And pluck up drowned honour by the locks". Analyze Hotspur's grandiose notion of honor and compare that to Prince Hal's own concept of honor.

6) Many critics of the play argue that, in the final analysis, Shakespeare has failed to make Prince Hal a convincing character. We are to conclude that Hal has every virtue that makes both a great ruler and a great man -- honesty, bravery, loyalty, generosity, intelligence, compassion, etc -- in addition to accepting that he has no flaws with which to counter those virtues; flaws that would make him a realistic character. Do you agree that Hal is "too good to be true"? Is it really true that Shakespeare makes Hal flawless? Make reference to Hal's relationships with his father and Falstaff in your answer.

7) Discuss the character King Henry IV. How does he relate to his son. Does he handle his political affairs effectively?

8) Outline the history of and the literary patterns in the traditional morality play and discuss why Henry IV, Part I itself could be considered a morality play.

9) Falstaff is considered to be one of the greatest characters in English literature. Do you agree, and, if so, what makes him such a powerful creation?


More Resources

 Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
 Life in Stratford (structures and guilds)
 Life in Stratford (trades, laws, furniture, hygiene)
 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?

 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

Research Your Topic

 1 Henry IV Study Guide
 1 Henry IV Overview (with theme analysis)
 1 Henry IV Study Questions with Sample Answers

 Introduction to Prince Hal
 Introduction to Falstaff
 Introduction to Hotspur
 Introduction to Owen Glendower

 1 Henry IV Play History
 Shakespeare's History Plays: The Ultimate Quiz
 1 Henry IV Plot Summary
 1 Henry IV: Q & A

 Sources for 1 Henry IV
 Famous Quotations from 1 Henry IV

 Shakespeare's Falstaff and the Queen
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England

 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Why Study Shakespeare?
 Quotations About William Shakespeare

 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language

Falstaff's Role in Henry IV, Part One Essay

973 Words4 Pages

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…show more content…

No one can deny that he is

in fact a glutton and a thief. A coward is debatable. I choose to think he

is. He is self centered and cares only for his own profit and enjoyment. He

will protect himself at all costs including playing " possum" if necessary

to avoid injury. When he misuses the money intended to buy troops and

weapons, he turns it into profit for himself. Once again, with no concern

for anyone else, he potentially jeopardizes the troops, the battle and the

kingdom with substandard men and materials while making money for himself.

It makes the reader question, what kind of friend is he to Hal that he

would misuse the trust that has been given him. All the easier for Hal to

ultimately recognize that this is not the kind of person or people he wants

to associate himself with, let alone approve of.

Johnson's second assumption that you can detach Falstaff's frivolity

from the real drama is in fact true, but what would you have left? A less

interesting, less amusing drama with only one main plot. Falstaff is of

paramount importance to the sub-plot dealing with Hal's decision between

continuing his carefree life style or maturing into the role he is destined

to play as a respected prince and later king. This story would be pretty

dull if Hal didn't have to choose between an entertaining life like

Falstaff's or an honorable one as a gallant warrior and respected

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