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The contrast between Hotspur and Hal is the main theme in Henry IV part one.

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English Coursework The contrast between Hotspur and Hal is the main theme in Henry IV part one and creates an enthralling play. Hal and Hotspur are total opposites in some ways but when examined more closely one sees that their moral values are the same. They are both ambitious and determined to succeed but only one can prevail. At the beginning of the play Henry IV draws a clear contrast between Hotspur and his son, whose reputation is sullied by "riot and dishonour". The king then goes so far as to wish they had been exchanged when infants, so strongly does he feel the difference between them. There are many examples of the way that the two cannot exist at the same time. Hal and Hotspur are both heroes who want to win. Falstaff is the other main character in the play. Falstaff has a totally different view on honour to that of Hotspur. This is shown in Act II when Falstaff runs away from the two robbers, he values his safety much more than his reputation. Hotspur would never think about doing anything like that he would prefer to fight. In between these two extreme ideas of honour is Hal Throughout the play Shakespeare juxtaposes from one scene to another. One scene may be very solemn and serious and then the next scene amusing. For instance Act II scene iii is not one of merriment and mirth, Hotspur talks about the rebellion and how serious it is getting. The next scene, Act II scene iv, shows Hal in the tavern joking with Falstaff. Shakespeare juxtaposes to show the contrast between Hal and Hotspur. The juxtaposition shows how each hero copes with the situations that they find themselves in. It also shows how two people have different qualities and they are two different types of leaders. Shakespeare is asking what qualities does a good leader possesses As his nickname suggests, Harry Percy is an impulsive and reckless character that acts first and thinks later. ...read more.


Neither judgement reveals the respect they feel for each other. Now we see that their rivalry is to be crucial to the salvation, not only of Hal's character, but of the kingdom. The personal and political threads of the play are entwined, and we are prepared for the climax, the single combat of Hal and Hotspur in Act V In Act V scene v. When they are about to fight Hal says Hotspur is "a very valiant rebel" but that they can no longer share in glory. Two stars cannot move in one course and England cannot have "a double reign" of Hal and Hotspur. It shall not replies Hotspur, "for the hour is come, To end the one of us" This really shows the great respect that they have for each other. Shakespeare is saying that to be a good leader you need to be able to use language to your advantage. In Act IV scene I we see one of many scenes that show how impatient and impetuous Hotspur is. Hotspur receives a letter from his father saying that he will not be bringing troops as he is sick. Hotspur exclaims that Northumberland's sickness infects the whole enterprise, "Tis catching hither, even to our camp" This has greatly reduced the number of troops available for fighting and really they should postpone the attack until other soldiers arrive. Hotspur says that his father's absence will make their business seem all the more heroic and daring (thus adding to his own honour), "It lends a lustre and more great opinion, A larger dare to our enterprise". So they decide to go ahead with the attack against the wishes of Worcester. For Hotspur war is not regarded as something terrible and destructive but is simply a means of more glory. At the end of Act I Scene ii he shows his immature attitude, "O, let the hours be short, Till fields and blows and groans applaud our sport!" ...read more.


Hotspur is a great competitor and doesn't like to lose, he wants to reign supreme. Hal doesn't like losing, this is another reason that Henry IV part 1 is such a great play. The rivalry is phenomenal and neither wants to lose but only one can triumph. Hal on the other hand is quietly confident about everything that he is going to do. This is shown in the soliloquy in Act I. As the play goes on he becomes more and more self-assured. In Act II Hal becomes extremely confident, in some ways over confident, after he has listened to his father telling him that he is failing him Hal states that he will kill Hotspur. It is a bit presumptuous of him seeing as Hotspur is the greatest soldier in Britain at that time. Hal must have spent time training and learning how to fight when he was younger or he must have been learning in between being in the tavern, he knew that his time would come. Throughout the play Shakespeare asks questions about leadership and what characteristics you need to have to be a good leader. Shakespeare exaggerates Hal and Hotspurs faults, this is because he is querying political power. He is hinting that all political power is corrupt. What is power and how do you get it? He shows that the better leader will be the one that can use language to manipulate people. Hotspur has some very good characteristics but he is not a good leader. Hotspur needs to play the political game, you can't be honest and be a good leader. The play also shows that you will get punished if you rebel. The characteristics that your must have to be a good leader are being dishonourable, using language to great effect, being ambitious but not shouting about it, being dishonest and being very cunning. These are the qualities that Hal posses, even though Hotspur is probably the better person morally he has not got the characteristics to be a good leader. 1 ...read more.

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