Henry Iv Part One: How Do Hal, Hotspur, And Falstaff Regard Honor?

1105 words - 4 pages

How Do Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff Regard Honor?"It was just him and me. He fought with honor. If it weren't for his honor, he and the others would have beaten me together. They might have killed me, then. His sense of honor saved my life. I didn't fight with honor... I fought to win." In I Henry IV, William Shakespeare agrees with Orson Scott Card that one may fight smarter when they only have to defend their life. Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff are three characters who have different ideas for gaining honor. Their search remains for great respect, brought on by special merit. These three men all think honor is important for respect and power, but the question remains: what sacrifices and risks on the battlefield are they willing to take to find it?Hotspur views honor as something he wants and will risk much for honor's sake. Sharing his thoughts with his father and uncle, Hotspur explains his search for honor as something very easy for an honorable person like him to find:"By heaven, methinks it were an easy leapTo 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 the drowned honor by the locks,So he that doth redeem her thence might wearWithout corrival all her dignities." (1.3.206-213).Hotspur believes it is easy for him to gain honor because he is brave enough to outperform other men in battle on the judgement field.Throughout the play, Hal, the heir to the English throne, doesn't care about honor or anything except his enjoyment: "I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the north, he that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife "Fie upon this quiet life! I want work""(2.4.104-8). Here he mocks Hotspur for how hard he tries to earn his honor. At this point Hal would wish to save his life rather than gaining honor in a battle.Later, when rebellion threatens, Hal steps up to fight in battle and he gains honor doing so. King Henry IV listens to Hal talking about his change and duty as the rebels, including Hotspur prepare themselves for a rebellion:"I will redeem all this on Percy's head,And, in closing of some glorious day,Be bold to tell you that I am your son,When I wear a garment all of bloodAnd stain my favors in a bloody mask,Which, washed away, shall scour my shame with it" (3.2.137-142).Working for a better image, Hal now illustrates his honor as something he will earn by risking his life. However, only when his father needs him will Hal fight. He shows he has changed when, to minimize the death count he challenges Hotspur to a one-on-one battle. However the messages are not relayed correctly and the battle goes on. Hal and Hotspur meet at the battle and even though they respect each other Hal kills Hotspur and wins the battle and the honor for himself and his kingdom. Hal changes his views of honor and now welcomes it and the risks that come along with it.Hotspur shows how he easily gains...

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