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In Henry IV Part One, first impressions are never correct. By the end of the play, we have been forced to re-assess our feelings about the main characters. Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement.

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Introduction

In Henry IV Part One, first impressions are never correct. By the end of the play, we have been forced to re-assess our feelings about the main characters. Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement. The main characters definitely appear to change throughout the play and their true selves emerge by the end. The first character on stage is the King; we first see him addressing the court about what has happened since he became King. He is a very powerful man and decides the way to 'win the hearts' of his country is to go on a crusade to the Holy Land. His country has turned to civil war due to his indirect path to the throne. His attitude towards Hal is anything but fatherly. He considers Hal to be unworthy of inheriting the throne because Falstaff's influence has made him rebellious and irresponsible, unable to handle tasks a King has to carry out. ...read more.

Middle

Hal admires Falstaff and has more respect for him than for his own father. This is shown in Act II, Sc. IV. Hal and Falstaff continue to mock the king by impersonating him: Thou art violently carried away from grace: there is A devil haunts the in the likeness of an old fat man Each of them impersonates the king and Hal- mocking him for being so strict and self-righteous. This adds humour to a very serious play about war and you get to see how other characters view the king as a person. I believe they find him too serious and quite uptight about a lot of issues-including that he thinks his son is irresponsible. I like how Shakespeare includes humour to lighten the seriousness of the play-it keeps the audience interested so that the length of the play is not so much to digest. In Act V, Sc. IV Hal kills Hotspur in a bloody battle and exits from the stage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The audience allows themselves to overlook his shameful qualities because of the humour he adds to the play. By the end of the play it seems as though Falstaff has changed for the better (from the King's point of view) as he 'killed' Hotspur, but to the audience he is still the same man as in the beginning of the play as they have the ability to see everything that happens. I agree with the statement that we have been forced to re-assess our feelings about the main characters at the end of the play. The characters have changed gradually over the course of the play; the characters first impressions almost forgotten by the end of the play. The characters have become stronger and have formed a unique bond by the end: the King forgiving Falstaff and Hal, Hal becoming closer to his father and Falstaff turning into a more respectable friend to the prince. This makes the audience happier with the outcome of the play and displays some good morals. ...read more.

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