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Compare Shakespeare's presentation of the characters of Hal and Hotspur in Henry IV Part 1.

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Introduction

Compare Shakespeare's presentation of the characters of Hal and Hotspur in Henry IV Part 1 The two main characters in Henry IV Part 1 are named Hal and Hotspur. They are two very contrasting characters. Hal (actual name Henry Bolingbrook) is the son of the king, Henry IV. Hotspur (Harry Percy) is the son of Lord Northumberland. His family is very wealthy and powerful, and at the start of the play they are fighting for the King because they are good friends with him. Things soon turn sour though, when the short-tempered Hotspur, egged on by his scheming uncle, Lord Worcester, falls out with the King and vows to get revenge on him. This essay describes the numerous differences between the two young men. In his father's eyes, Hal mixes with the wrong sort of people, and this is probably true. He spends a lot of his time with thieves like Gadshill, liars like Falstaff, and drunkards like Bardolph. The King is very disappointed with the way his son behaves, and he makes this clear right at the beginning of the play. ...read more.

Middle

Hotspur is obsessed with war and politics, whereas at the start of the play it seems like Hal couldn't care less. "I love thee not; I care not for thee Kate... when I am a-horseback I will swear that I love thee infinitely" says Hotspur, who we know loves Kate very much, but when there is a battle approaching he doesn't care about anything else. Although at the start of the play Hal seems disinterested in war and politics, it later emerges that he is almost as fanatical about it as Hotspur. Hal, when he insults people, does it behind their back, and is much more subtle than Hotspur. In Act 2 Scene 4 Hal has a dig at Hotspur while laughing and joking in the tavern, whereas Hotspur criticises the King while he is just meters away from him in Act 1 Scene 3. "He... forbad my tongue to speak of Mortimer, but I will find him when he lies asleep and in his ear I'll holla "Mortimer!" ...read more.

Conclusion

A two-faced side of Hostpur emerges in Act 4 Scene 3, where he acts very warmly towards the enemy's messenger. "Welcome, Sir Walter Blunt... some of us love you well, and even those some envy your great deservings and good name." he says. Hal is also two-faced in a way, because he mixes with dishonourable people even though he doesn't even want to. Of course he pretends to want to when he is around them. Both Hal and Hotspur are admired by people on the opposite sides to them. In Act 4 Scene 1 Vernon compares Hal to the Gods, using lots of philosophical metaphors, much to Hotspur's displeasure. "Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury" he proclaims in a description of Hal. The King shows his respect for Hotspur as well by calling him "Mars in swaddling clothes". They are both respected by their enemies, and both seem to be unappreciated by their own sides. So as you can see, although Hal and Hotspur at first seem like very contrasting characters, as the play progresses you begin to notice more and more similarities between them. ...read more.

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