The Character Of Falstaff In Henry Iv

1687 words - 7 pages

The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV          

      None of Shakespeare's plays are read more than the first and second parts of Henry IV. Particularly in Henry IV Part I, Shakespeare writes chronologically historical and interesting to follow events. The reader follows the chain of events with devotion and content eager to find out what happens next. Even though the hero of the play is Prince Henry, or Hal as we know him, the reader may find themselves more focused on Falstaff, one of the other major characters that Shakespeare created for comical relief. He was a witty, self-conscious, self-centered companion of the Prince. King Henry even criticized his eldest son for keeping company with such a low man. Even though Hal is the hero of the play both in both the tragic and the comic part, Falstaff is a main character to focus on in Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I.

The Prince is a character of many qualities both good and bad. He is a man of great abilities with violent passions as Samuel Johnson had noted in his The Plays of William Shakespeare. Johnson also stated that Hal's actions are wrong and even partially wicked and I would have to agree with him on that.( Johnson 234 ) To prove my point and to justify Johnson's I would have to refer to the scene after the Boar's Head Tavern. The crew decides to play a game of robbers and Hal along with a companion in turn decide to rob Falstaff himself for the fun. They do so and therefore leave the man of his dignity. However, it can be argued that Falstaff set himself up for such a cruel joke, he even boasted about how he fought off the masked robbers who, as he found out later, were no other than the Prince himself along with a companion. Where, as the reader knows, he ran away with cowardice. Yet this is the Falstaff that Shakespeare had in mind. Complex, foolish, and witty enough to even match himself with the Prince. Prince Hal was the hero of the play, but Falstaff was the character to follow. (Johnson 235)

Hal's opposite was a peer to him, the younger of the Percy's Hotspur. Shakespeare properly named this character Hotspur for he was indeed a character with a hot temper and passionate ideas and actions. He longed for a one-on-one match with the Prince, which he did get at the end of the play. Unfortunately for himself, he lost it and was eventually eliminated. Yet I would have to agree with Johnson once again that Falstaff received the center attention of the reader.( Johnson 235 )

Sir John, or as he was commonly known in the play as Falstaff, was a knight to the King Henry. He was a man of large proportions, indulging into the sweet things in life. He was a man of low morale, as Johnson had noted in his essay. He was a coward and the viewer got to see that in the robbery scene that was aforementioned above. He cared for nothing in life but to satisfy his needs. He preyed upon the poor, he was always ready to cheat and lie. Yet we have grown an attachment to him, for...

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