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King Henry Iv Part 1 Essay

1171 words - 5 pages

King Henry IV Part 1

Although most people find it hard to climb out of a whole they have dug themselves into, Prince Hal in Henry IV Part I is able to redeem himself even after the English King and nobility view him as a derelict with no future. He proves himself true to the Royal Throne when he defeats his young rival, Henry Percy. Through the exorcism of his immature ways, he earns himself the succession to the throne.

In the opening scene of the play, King Henry hears news from the Earl of Northumberland that Henry Percy, "the gallant Hotspur" (1.1.52), is leading a successful campaign against Mortimer in Wales. The King reflects on how he wishes his own son were more like Hotspur:

Yea, there thou mak'st me sad and mak'st me sin
In envy that my Lord Northumberland
Should be the father to so blest a son (Hotspur)
A son who is the theme of honor's tongue.
Whilst I, by looking to praise him,
See riot and dishonor stain the brow
Of my young Harry. (1.1.77)

The King is envious of Northumberland’s son, who does not waste his days like Prince Hal. The King is not proud to be the father of such a person. His son is wasting his days away with the fat-faced drunk, Falstaff. The two, along with others, spend their days robbing devout people on their pilgrimages and drinking old sack. Prince Henry does, however, make clear that he intends to surprise the world by standing forth in his true character:

Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as work; (1.2.204)

This statement implies that Falstaff is preventing Hal from maturing into the mature royalty that he inevitably must become. The “foul and ugly mists of vapors” refer to Falstaff, who is constantly surrounding Prince Hal.

King Henry, attempting to transform his son into a son he can be proud of, censures his son for participating in "barren pleasures" (3.2.16) with his vulgar cohorts. At this point the King makes it clear that he is disgusted with his son and that the throne will go to Hal's younger, more responsible brother. What the prince earlier...

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