The Moralities Of Falstaff And Prince Hal In King Henry Iv

783 words - 3 pages

Throughout King Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare consistently contrasts the opposing worldviews of Falstaff and Prince Hal. Shakespeare portrays Falstaff as the old, overweight drunk who lives only to enjoy himself in the present. In contrast, Shakespeare shows Hal to be the sometimes irresponsible, nevertheless, intelligent and heroic prince whose entire life and character is about planning and preparing not only himself, but also others for the future. Yet, while Falstaff engages in illegal activity to maintain his own pleasure, regardless of any implications, Hal retains his scruples and manages to regain the respect of his peers. Thus Hal’s more selfless and futuristic oriented worldview is more compelling than the Falstaff’s moralless view that is completely centered on the present.
Falstaff is a simple man who thinks only of himself in the present and how best he can enjoy himself. Around the middle of the play, Prince Hal gives Falstaff the position of an infantry commander. Falstaff, however, confesses or rather boasts about abusing his position, “I have misused the King’s press damnably…I pressed none but such toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins’ heads” (4.2.12-22). Falstaff uses the word “damnably”, to imply that he knows that what he is doing is wrong. Too, his willingness to use the word “damn”, a word vulgar in the eyes of God, shows that Falstaff is not worried about whether he goes to hell or heaven, he just wants to enjoy himself now rather than concern himself with the future. Furthermore, when Falstaff says “I pressed none but such toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins’ heads”, toasts-and-butter is referring to the wealth of those he is impressing and “hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins’ heads” is referring to their cowardliness. Because Falstaff is recruiting only rich cowards, it is clear that Falstaff does not care about how his army will perform, and that he does not care that his army will be unable to protect the people of England. Falstaff cares only about the bribes he has been paid. INSERT CONCLUDING SENTENCE
In sharp contrast to Falstaff, Prince Hal considers not only the happenings of the present, but also the possibilities of the future. In addition, he is able to consider the wellbeing of others in addition to his own. After...

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