The Theme of Honor in Henry Iv

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The Honorable King Henry V

What is honor? For some, honor is everything they hope to achieve. For others, honor is just a word. Even though many people do not believe so, honor is present just as much today as it was in William Shakespeare’s day. In the play Henry IV Part 1, Hal is the best example of an honorable person. Honor is a state of mind that causes people to be honest, just and kind.

Hal was an honorable man; this is one of the greatest qualities he possessed. To be honorable, a person must be able to admit when they are wrong and always be truthful. Hal admits to making bad decisions, “I would, I could quit all offenses with as clear excuse as well I am, doubtless I can purge myself of many I am charged withal” (3.2.18-20). Hal could have lied and said that his activities were only rumors, but he takes responsibility for his actions. This shows that Hal wants to change his ways and become an honorable man. In the time the play was written, people were considered honorable if they were truthful and admitted their mistakes. But honesty is not all Hal needed to be considered honorable.

Hal was always fair which made his subjects admire him. Hal is a prince, which makes it easy for him to care only about himself; however, he takes care of his friends. Hal tells Falstaff “I’ll procure this fat rogue a charge of foot” (2.4.528). Hal not only wants honor for himself, but he also wants his friends to be honorable. Hal does not have to worry about anyone other than himself, however, the fact that he worries about his friends shows his true character. Hal tries to stop unnecessary bloodshed when he says to Hotspur “And will, to save the blood on either side, try fortune with him in a single fight” (5.1.99-100). Hal not only cares about his friends, but also all of the people that will be his subjects. Hal does not want to see his people slaughtered if he can help it. Hal is a fair man who thinks before he acts which makes him seem...
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