Second Major Essay
Honor is commonly associated with people in places of high worthiness and respect, in Henry IV – Part 1 we aren’t given a set definition of what they view honor to be. Instead, honor has different meanings to different characters in the play. Shakespeare portrays his views on honor through the characters of Hotspur, Falstaff, and Hal. Since these characters have such contrasting views on honor it creates conflict for them with other individuals because they aren’t able to see eye to eye on their opposing actions.
Hotspur’s view on honor is one of a solider, he believes that a win on the battlefield will win him equal honor. This take on honor is slightly barbaric; he seems to be certain that honor is something concrete in a physical sense, instead of something intangible. In the beginning of the play King Henry is the one who compares Hotspurs honorable achievements, with capturing the prisoners, to Hal and says “See riot and dishonour strain the brow/ Of my young Harry” (I.i.85-86). Although King Henry views highly of Hotspur, the feeling is not reciprocated, Hotspur observes the king to be dishonorable and not worthy of having the thrown. This idea of the king is what develops the rebellion. If the rebellion were to succeed Hotspur would be in the royal family, and he believes that to be in the royal family you must have honor. Through this rebellion he is so intent on achieving honor that it overcomes him to the point where he can barely sleep. This becomes a need for illogical honor. The only thing he begins to talk about is the rebellion and it starts to affect his relationship with his wife. Hotspurs necessity for honor and notoriety ultimately lead to his downfall.
On the opposite spectrum of things we now have Falstaff, who perceives honor to be a waste of time. He seems to be unconvinced by the notion that it would do good for anyone. Some might say that with honor comes courtliness...
Cited: Shakespeare, William, and Roma Gill. Henry IV, Part 1. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.
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