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Examine the theme of honour as presented in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV: Part I.

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Introduction

Christopher Atkins 20th October 2002 Examine the theme of honour as presented in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV: Part I In 'Henry IV: Part I' Shakespeare presents several different themes of honour. Honour is explored in the play mainly by three characters; Prince Hal, Hotspur and Falstaff. These three characters each show three different extremes of honour and I plan to explore them in this essay. As this play is mainly based around war, honour plays a very key factor in it. Hal is the main character of the play and as the Kings first son and heir to the throne; a lot of attention is focussed on him. At the beginning of the play Prince Hal, along with Falstaff and a few others plot a robbery at Gad's Hill which is very dishonourable, more so for him as the King's son and heir to the throne. Along with this robbery he also agrees to a joke robbery with Poins against Falstaff, which to a friend is very unfaithful. ...read more.

Middle

Hal's turnaround from being dishonourable and mischievous and hanging in taverns with the lower classes to being a very honourable figure in the play and a very suitable heir to the throne came after a conversation with his father, the King as he voiced his concerns and worries for his sons place as heir to the throne in explaining that the way the he is behaving was what led to himself taking over the role as the King from Richard. Hal shows a high level of maturity by immediately changing after this conversation. Hotspur, another key character in the play also has a remarkable amount of bravery and courage for what he believes in. Although it is against the King, he shows an immense amount. However in comparison to Hal, shows little dishonourableness, the only controversial moment being when he over exaggerates the battle Glendower was in. Hotspur also shows a great level of honour by also offering to face Hal one-on-one to save the lives of many innocent people and settle the dispute. Hotspur makes this offer without the knowledge that Hal made the same proposal. ...read more.

Conclusion

Falstaff also discusses honour in the play. He believes it is just a word and means nothing if you die: "What is honour, a word?" He also shows dishonour by exaggerating the story of when he was robbed as a joke because he is unaware it was a joke. There are also plenty other characters in the play that show honour and courage. Prince John, the second son of the King shows signs early on in the play as well as 'the valiant Sir Walter Blunt' who died in battle for his King and Country and similarly Douglas showed bravery and the opposing side, for the rebels. Not to mention all the soldiers who died in battle. Also there was Glendower who was taken prisoner in a battle at the beginning of the play. Personally, I feel there is nobody who came close to the amount of honour Hal proved himself to have in this play. Despite his dishonourable and rebellious behaviour at the beginning of the play, he came through to win the respect of others, win the battle and save the life of his father, showing the most bravery, courage, maturity to transform, loyalty and honour in this play. ...read more.

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