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William Shakespeare's Henry Iv Essay

1782 words - 7 pages

Politicians and leaders use different strategies to win an election; most of them get their voters by promising the public to fix their country or turning it to a more desirable place. For example the historian Niccolo Machiavelli discusses this point by stating how to gain and keep political power through his book The Prince, He says that a ruler should forget about virtue and morality in the process of becoming a king and his focus should be the public. He also states that a ruler or a prince should be a performer and a deceiver who can regulate his actions and talks to fit any given situation. This concept is seen in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part I, where Hal uses his acting and manipulating skills to redeem his honour. He pretends to be the tavern boy that is careless and never takes responsibilities but he reveals his true identity at the end of this play as a noble man with moral standards. Shakespeare carefully crafts Hal to not only fit the criteria of the play but to also discuss one of the strategies that a strong leader might use to convence the public. The duplicity in Hal show his creativity as a leader and it also shows that his plan of redeeming honour is meticulously planned which marks his transformation as invaluable.
Hal attempts to hide his true reason for not engaging himself in the political landscape of court because he wants to exceed his father’s expectations of him in redeeming honor. He also wants to win public support for his future of being a king. First, Hal reveals his plan of rescuing his honor to the audience through his soliloquy by giving an idea of why he is trying not to handle any responsibilities yet. He states, “And, like metal on a sullen ground, / My reformation, glittering o’er my fault, / Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes / Than that which hath no foil to set if off” (1.2.183-185). Hal compares his plan of transformation or (the new Hal that he will become) to a shiny metal while his character and actions right now are compared to a gloomy ground. Hal says that he is pretending and that he will save his reputation by killing Hotspur and as a result rebuild his honour when nobody expect it. This way he will “attract more eyes” unlike Hotspur who has been honourable all his life. This shows that Hal is a really calculating character and that he has his unique ways of getting people to his side to uphold him during his reign as a king. Shakespeare meant to include this characteristic in Hal so that his change in personality into a nobler person gets distinguished and also this allows to argue one of the strategies that a leader or a person in power would do to gain people by his side. Secondly, Hal openly implies that the only reason why he is friends with all those lower class people (i.e. thieves) is to get their voices and their support when he becomes the new king. Hal says to Poins : “ am no proud jack, like Falstaff, but a Corinthian, a lad of matter, a good boy _ by the lord, so...

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