April 13, 2013
Honor or Something
“What is honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? he that died a Wednesday.” –Falstaff, Part I of Henry VI That is a good question. What is honor? What does it mean for one to have, or to have gained honor? Well, according to the dictionary, honor means “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions,” or it could mean, “high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank,” or even, “high public esteem, fame, glory!” So really, not even the dictionary is completely certain what honor means. Because honesty and fairness does not always win you high public esteem, and you can achieve rank and worth by being brutal and swindling your way to the top. So it seems that honor is contradictory, or is it?
Although, that does not answer my question, “what is honor?” People have been trying to answer this question for centuries. It goes way back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, and Shakespeare picked up a rock and started chiseling down his play, Part One of Henry IV! Okay, so that was a bit of an exaggeration. He had a quill and paper, and maybe only one or two dinosaurs were left on Earth.
In his play, Part One of Henry IV, Shakespeare has his characters discuss and search for honor. Specifically the three characters Hotspur, a haughty knight with a massive ego, Hal, the crowned prince of Wales, and Falstaff, a drunken fat man who was also Hal’s second father. However, these three men had completely different views on honor. Hotspur believes that honor is measured by what a man can do and get done, Hal sees honor as something you must earn through proving yourself trustworthy and loyal, and Falstaff believes that honor is more or less a joke of societal construction. In watching these three characters bounce off each other, it would lead one to believe that Shakespeare thought honor was nothing but a big giant hoax....