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Shakespeare - How do the Falstaff scenes relate to the main plot?

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Introduction

Falstaff is a fat witty knight who is the main source of comedy in play. He is one of the most wonderful and popular characters ever created by Shakespeare. Falstaff is not so much a person to be judged by realistic standards. Part comic fool and part vice figure from the morality plays, his role embodies a vast number of qualities that it is impossible to characterise him in simple terms. Here are four points that sum his character: * Falstaff is the play's fool, yet he shows great virtue with his language. He turns words inside out, deliberately mistakes what people have said to him. He boasts and lies without shame ' a hundred upon poor four of us' is how he describes the counter robbery at Gads Hill. He moralises on the serious themes of the play, honour being a 'mere scutcheon'. * Falstaff is Hal's best friend and at time treats him with almost parental tenderness, at one stage playacting King Henry 'Shall the son of England prove a thief, and take purses'. Hal feels the same way, but is aware of Falstaff's weakness, his potential to 'mislead' him. * Falstaff's speeches are often partly aimed at the audience, inviting it to join in with his hilarious dishonesty, and his jokes and his excuses are comparable to a stand up comedian. ...read more.

Middle

They joke and make fun of each other with out the other taking any offence. But despite all this, Hal knows that to have any credit as a future King he must throw off 'this loose behaviour' so that people will admire him. The major scene when Falstaff and Hal show their father-son relationship is Act II Scene 4, where they play-act the meeting between Hal and King Henry. Mock interview demonstrates two ways of looking at Falstaff, one bad and one good, and these both expressed in language that is highly literary and rhetorical. Falstaff begins by parodying a style of verse- 'King Cambyses vein'-which was common in Elizabethan theatre. You can see that the characteristics of his speech when he turns to prose, the similes, repetitions, rhetorical questions, verbal antithesis and alliterations. These produce an exaggerated, pompous effect suitable for his parody role as the King. Falstaff reference to 'a dagger of lath' identifies him with the figure of Vice in the morality plays whose function was to tempt men to sin. Prince Hal's depiction of Falstaff as 'that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years' refers to him as a character in the morality plays. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many people would say that Falstaff is a fool in his character. I would strongly disagree with that as he shows great amounts of virtuosity with his words and moralises the words around the main themes of the play (such as honour being a' mere scutcheon' and nothing but 'air'). Falstaff believes that whoever takes honour seriously; honour will take him to death. 'Rare words! Brave world!' he comments, after Hal summons them all to battle. Shakespeare creates a relationship between the two plots, with the comic sub-plot often parodying the subject of the main plot. Thus when the rebels begin their conspiracy against the king, which is the subject of the main plot, the comic sub-plot also starts it conspiracy against Falstaff. Overall, Falstaff contributes greatly to the play, not only as a comedian, but also a wise Fool, commenting on the major themes of the play, both directly and indirectly. Falstaff, creates humour with his puns and alliterations and never lets the real world play too much of a part in him. The Falstaff world revolves around 'sag' and being rewarded for his 'heroism' in the battle where he fought Hotspur for 'a long hour by Shrewsbury clock'. ...read more.

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