Falstaff As The Hero Of Henry Iv

1775 words - 8 pages

Who brings laughter to the stage and audience? Who changes a frat boy’s way of life? Who brings merriment to everyone he annoys? Why, none other than Sir John Falstaff of course! Falstaff, in Henry IV, is a cleverly written simpleton who cares not for the courtly rules but those of the tavern and his own. He is his own creator, always unpredictable yet foreseeable by everyone but himself. To many, Prince Hal is the hero of the play; Falstaff on the other hand is perceived as the trickster, a
William Shakespeare based the infamous characher Falstaff on a Sir John Oldcastle (1378-1417) a martyred leader of the lollards, a Medieval English sect based off the teachings of John Wycliffe. ...view middle of the document...

“Jack” Falstaff is said to be one of the most “famous” characters within Shakespeare’s plays, appearing in four plays; Henry IV Parts 1&2, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shakespeare created Falstaff with an interesting mix of talents and characteristics; he is known to be larger than life, jolly, boisterous, lazy, a coward, he tends to blame everyone else for the cause or his actions, he is a thief, and last but not least he tries to be a philander.
Although Falstaff is a knight, his lifestyle tells differently and clearly renders him incompatible of the chivalrous ideals. To prove his way of living, he commits robbery for mere entertainment and money of course. Honor is useless to him as he states, “Can honor set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No….Honor is a mere scutcheon” Falstaff compares honor to violence which is connected all throughout the play. He seems to criticize morality because of his love for life and finds the accessories of courtesy and honor useless when there could be jokes told and food to be eaten and drinks to be consumed.
Shakespearean scholars are fascinated with the character of Falstaff and how he is constantly creating a myth about himself to Hal and Poins. He is the master of wordplay and by this talent he provides the comedy in Henry IV. According to David Scott Kastan, editor of King Henry IV Part 1 from The Arden Shakespeare, during the 1620’s,
Henry IV Part 2 was less received…Part One, however, was almost immediately both a literary and theatrical triumph, as successful in the bookstalls of London as it was on stage….No doubt much of its popularity resulted from the comic action from Falstaff. There are more references to the fat knight up until the end of the eighteenth century than to any other literary character, and, before the last half-century, discussions of Falstaff dominated the criticism of the play. On the stage, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 1 Henry IV was inevitably Falstaff’s play.
While Falstaff appears to have been the largest “draw” in the 16th and 17th century, in today’s literary world theatre production, the play revolves around the Prince of Wales (Hal) and his journey to the throne through Falstaff, King Henry, and Hotspur. Kastan goes on to maintain Falstaff’s role is no longer the center of the play but one of the legs that holds a chair.
A hero refers to characters who, in the face of great peril or weakness, show courage and the will for sacrifice, for the good of humanity. Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples. In the classical ages, heroes such as Heracles, Achilles and Perseus play an important role in Ancient Greek religion.
The “Mythic Hero Archetype” is made up of common traits shared by many heroes throughout various cultures, religions and history around the world. Some of these traits include a mother who is a royal virgin, attempt to kill the hero as an infant, no details of childhood, raised by...

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