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King Henry Iv By William Shakespeare

1201 words - 5 pages

King Henry IV by William Shakespeare is a play based on history, a history of a kingdom in midst of war. To single out any one character as the hero would be biased. War is a conflict in which both sides are fighting for their beliefs and a hero of one side would be an enemy of the other. Who is right? Is a question we must ask ourselves but one that has multiple answers.It is important to understand just what constitutes a hero. Is a hero brave? Many characters in the play, as well as, history have been brave and courageous, running into battle or taking on a problem without fears. If that where the only prerequisite for "hero" status than many people are heroes. Following this logic, suicidal bombers and homicidal maniacs also fit the bill. A hero must strive to reach some noble goal. If so, who is to say what is a noble goal? Is overthrowing the current King a noble goal? What if one believes the King to be an imposter to the throne or an evil tyrant? Would one become a hero if he tried to overthrow an "unjust" or "unfit" ruler from the throne no matter the odds? And is it justifiable to wage wars based on your own philosophy or the belief of a handful of people, can such a bloody conflict ever be deemed justifiable? In the play we have many characters with their own agendas and views on the state of the kingdom, some clear andsome hidden in secrecy. Hal, Hotspur, King Henry all have a claim to be the hero of the play as well as Mortimer, Glendower, and Douglas.Hal seems to be a good choice for the status of the hero. The young prince that comes full circle from delinquent and full-time tavern patron to saving the day from the rebels. To his father, Hal, is an irresponsible son who does not care about his family's problems and dangers. Evidence of this can be seen in Act I, where scene I and iii involve the King arguing with his advisors and negotiating with the rebels while Hal in scene ii is hanging out with drunks. This shows how all around Hal trouble is brewing and he is wasting time completely oblivious to the state of the kingdom and his family's security and his own claim to the throne. Hal at one point disappoints his father to the point of tears and proclaims that he might as well "fight against me under Percy' s pay, to dog his heels and curtsy at his frowns" (Act III, scene ii; line 126-127). After hearing this Hal tries to avenge himself and claims that he will restore his reputation and his father's love. "I will redeem all this on Percy' s head" (Act III, scene ii; line 132) exclaims the young prince and so he does by slaying the gallant Hotspur. The fallen prince comes back to save the day; it would make a good story for a hero. But was Hal simply tricked into fighting in this war or was he playing his father into believing that he has risen from nothing to the "hero" of the day and earning this love and respect from all around him.Henry Percy, also known as Hotspur is another character that might be considered the hero of the...

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