Henry Iv: Appearance vs. Reality

Topics: Richard II, Richard II of England, William Shakespeare Pages: 4 (1312 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Henry IV: Appearance vs. Reality

Shakespeare's play Henry IV begins with a king (King Henry) beginning a pilgrimage after killing King Richard II. Henry believes that by gaining the throne of England he has done an honourable deed, yet he admits that the fighting and bloodshed could continue, A. . . ill sheathed knife . . . @ (I.1.17). He, also, admits that his own son, Prince Hal, is not honourable enough to occupy the throne, Asee riot and dishonour stain the brow of my young Harry" (I.1.17).

Shakespeare continues the topos of honour and redemption into Act three, scene two, where he uses elements such as anaphora, topos, imagery and rhetoric in a meeting between King Henry and Prince Hal that is both crucial and climatic to the overall structure of the theme of honour.

At the beginning of Act III sc. ii, Shakespeare clears all other characters from the stage to allow King Henry=s first meeting, face to face with Prince Hal, to be focused and intense. King Henry is the first to speak and sets a sombre tone as he begins to unmask himself to his son A. . . some displeasing service I have done @ (3.2.5). As well Shakespeare allows King Henry to bring Prince Hal=s mask to attention by using anaphora:

Could such inordinate and low desires,
Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such
mean attempt, such barren pleasures,
rude society as there art matched withal . . . (3.2.12-15).

The word such is used to emphasise his [Henry] displeasure of Hal=s friends and the image they portray around him causing Hal in the eyes of Henry to lose his princely image.
Shakespeare, then allows Prince Hal to defend himself to his father's interpretations of his (Hal) character. Again, there is a contrast between what King Henry perceives and what is reality. The king is obviously distressed over Hal=s choice of friends and how they affect this ‘Princely image'. Hal on the other hand asks for...

Cited: Shakespeare, William. 1Henry IV. In The Norten Anthology of English
Literature. Eds. M.H. Abrams et all. 5th Ed. New
York: Norton, 1987. Pg. 505-574
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