Hero worship has existed in this world since the beginning of time, from
the Jews honoring Moses, to the Germans honoring Adolf Hitler. Becoming a hero
is a very difficult thing to accomplish. One must be successful in gaining the
reverence of one's peers while at the same time not developing to big of an ego.
Two examples of men trying to become heroes are Prince Henry and Dr. Faustus.
Both, in their respective plays, have the capabilities of becoming a hero, but
only Prince Henry succeeds while Dr. Faustus fails.
At the beginning of The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, Faustus is a
well known doctor and is looked up to by his friends. Hal, on the other hand,
starts out in Henry IV, Part I, spending much of his time in a tavern engaged in
talk with robbers and hoodlums, therefore being looked down upon by the high
society which he is supposed to live in. While it appears that Faustus seems to
be headed to becoming a hero and Hal seems to be throwing away his chances, the
audience can see from their soliloquies, that they both plan on changing their
ways; Hal for the better and Faustus for the worse.
Faustus has risen to a great point in his life. He was born to "parents
base of stock (line 11)," but still has managed to gain a degree from the
University of Wittengberg, thus acquiring much respect from the professional
world. From the onset though, Faustus has his mind set on other things; such as
magic and necromancy. Hal, on the other hand was born to a high society. Even
though he does all of these mischievous things, he plans on repenting and
returning to his father.
The audience can see from Hal's soliloquy at the end of Act I, scene 2,
that no matter how unruly the individuals are that he hangs out with, they do
not have an influence on him:
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... [continues]
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