A comparison (up to the end of Act 3) of the 'courts' of Henry IV and his son Prince Harry

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A comparison (up to the end of Act 3) of the ‘courts’ of Henry IV and his son Prince Harry

   Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 1 deals with a Scottish challenge to the throne of King Henry IV led by Henry Percy (“Hotspur”) who was the son of the Earl of Northumberland. But it also deals with the differences of the lives at which the King and his son live, and how they differ in the time of need. In this essay I shall be carrying out a comparison of the ‘courts’ of Henry IV and his son, Price Henry, also named as Hal. When I mention ‘courts’, I am describing the area of which a monarch conducts all aspects of their business, but also the inhabitants of it. The outcome I am aiming to produce is to show how the two inhabitants of different courts come together when they are needed by each other. I shall start with a comparison of the settings of the two courts.

   The setting of the King’s court is of many great places in which he conducts his business, such as discussions of rebellion and how to keep the country at peace. These are very prestigious and modern (in the set era) rooms and areas which would allow a select few to enter. Surrounded by high quality goods and paintings, these courts would be very solemn. They would be used for their sole purpose only, and any unneeded acts would rarely commence. Examples of this are shown, not only in the BBC Broadcast of the book, but also in the ink drawings in the novel. They show the setting to be extremely tidy but at the same time bland. These areas have no character, no feeling in them; they are merely for show. In the BBC broadcast of the book, near the beginning there is a scene in which the King is giving a speech in which he addresses his supporters in giving them the news that he shall lead a crusade in Jerusalem (among other things). This setting in which he is in is extremely royal and expensive; this helps me to explain my comparison. But also, during Act 3 in the book, there is some clear ink drawings describing the settings of his courts. These are extremely plain areas, but they have their unique points to them.

   But in a complete contrast of this court, is Hal’s: Inns, dirty apartments filled with commoners and prostitutes- that was the world of Hal’s. But this was also of feeling, of life, of happiness. Hal’s courts were rarely dull or uneventful, but full of excitement; although, for this fun and excitement to occur, the circumstances shall be rough and cheap. The main areas to socialise would be in his Royal Apartments, but also the Boar’s Head, an uninviting tavern in Eastcheap. They are completely opposite to the layout of the Kings areas. Descriptions would be shabby, cheap ornaments, alcohol everywhere – feeding the drunks. The setting is dirty – fit for a common man, not a Prince. The BBC broadcast clearly elaborates on my comparison above in the scenes in which the Prince is socialising with his friends. Also, during Act 2 Scene 4 in the book, there is an ink drawing showing the tavern in which the Prince and his comrades are socialising. It shows many drunks sleeping on tables, fighting over drinks, sitting on various items trying to settle down. But this depicts the tavern to be full of low-life people trying to ‘drown their sorrows’.

   Another comparison I shall make is of the types of speeches between Henry IV and Hal. Iambic Pentameter, more commonly known as ‘Blank Verse’, was the verse used in the era of Shakespeare for those more able in society. They were unrhymed lines which were ten syllables long. Here is an example below of how the King’s speech is adapted to this style,

“So shaken as we are, so wan with care,

Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,

Join now!

And breathe short-winded accents of new broils

To be commenc’d in stronds afar remote:

No more the thirsty entrance of this soil

Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood;

No more shall trenching war channel her fields,

Nor bruise her flow’rets wit the armed hoofs

Of hostile paces.”

The King here uses different tones when speaking, first of solemnity with his views on the battle, but then with hope and determination as he encourages his supporters about the tactics of how to lead England from there on. This type of speech can adapt to any tone of ...

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