Henry the Fourth, Part One

Topics: William Shakespeare, Henry IV of England, Henry V of England Pages: 3 (1005 words) Published: April 6, 2013
Henry the Fourth, Part One

William Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth, Part One, focuses on the character Hal and his personal struggle to mould two very different worlds into one.  One world is that of an English commoner, the other world is that of a future King.  Hal tries to embrace both worlds within himself, and this creates some interesting conflict. The first side of Hal is shown in Act 2, Scene 4, when Hal and his side kick Flagstaff, role play the impending interaction between himself, and his father, King Henry. King Henry views Hal as lackadaisical, and disproves of all his time spent fraternizing with the commoners in the local bar. King Henry finds that Hal’s behaviour resembles that of a thieving drunkard who has a total disregard for the nobility and royal blood within him, and is infuriated by this. While Hal may be lacking motivation and a sense of purpose, one thing he does not lack is intelligence, wit, and an ability to relate to others. Hal may have been born into royalty but he does not yet possess the interest or maturity to behave in such a way. Instead, Hal chooses to play the role of anthropologist. Hal immerses himself in a life of play and shenanigans, establishing a connection with the common people. While spending time with the locals drinking and conversing with them, he finds himself picking up on their slang. The relationships that Hal is able to form with the local folk are genuine and reciprocated. So it is of no surprise that Hal does not see the harm in behaving this way. Hal believes that his ability to relate, and talk to the commoners on their level are an integral part of his future plan as leader. For when he takes over as King these bonds will be why the people of England will gladly follow him. “I have sounded the very bass string of humility. Sirrah, I am sworn brother to a leash of drawers, and can call them all by their christen names, as Tom, Dick and Francis. They take it already upon their salvation that though...

Cited: Shakespeare, William. “The History of Henry IV, Part One.” New York: New American Library, 1986. Print.
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