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Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1 
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Hal's arc as a character seems kind of stilted. You don't see much of his lusty, bawdy side and he announces at the end of Act I that he will soon start acting like the future king that he is. There's no crisis that prompts this change in the story. Hal just metamorphizes into a noble breed. His reputation precedes him.

So I was wondering about Hal's role in Richard II to see if some of this arc is portrayed there. It turns out that Hal doesn't make an appearance at all in Richard II (although Hotspur does). There's only this reference to Hal in Act V:

HENRY BOLINGBROKE
Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son?
'Tis full three months since I did see him last;
If any plague hang over us, 'tis he.
I would to God, my lords, he might be found:
Inquire at London, 'mongst the taverns there,
For there, they say, he daily doth frequent,
With unrestrained loose companions,
Even such, they say, as stand in narrow lanes,
And beat our watch, and rob our passengers;
Which he, young wanton and effeminate boy,
Takes on the point of honour to support
So dissolute a crew.

HENRY PERCY (Hotspur)
My lord, some two days since I saw the prince,
And told him of those triumphs held at Oxford.

HENRY BOLINGBROKE
And what said the gallant?

HENRY PERCY (Hotspur)
His answer was, he would unto the stews,
And from the common'st creature pluck a glove,
And wear it as a favour; and with that
He would unhorse the lustiest challenger.

HENRY BOLINGBROKE
As dissolute as desperate; yet through both
I see some sparks of better hope, which elder years
May happily bring forth. But who comes here?

The King calls his son "effeminate" but apparently this means only that he refuses to accept manly responsibility. But it's interesting that Hal's transformation is foreshadowed in this last line, as "sparks of better hope, which elder years may happily bring forth." Probably Shakespeare is just following Holinshed's The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Vol. III, 1587, which he based the play on.


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Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:36 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Quote:
Geo wrote:
Hal's arc as a character seems kind of stilted. You don't see much of his lusty, bawdy side and he announces at the end of Act I that he will soon start acting like the future king that he is. There's no crisis that prompts this change in the story. Hal just metamorphizes into a noble breed. His reputation precedes him.


I like what your saying here, It got me to re-re-read the beginning of act 1 scene 2, the intro to Hal and Falstaff.
To me the bawdy language conceals what only becomes obvious at the close of the scene.

we are introduced to the future king engaged in what is presumed to be a silly situation, but the dialog is quit serious if you consider a premeditation on Hals part. Hal is in control of his environment. Falstaff asks a facetious question," Now Hal, what time of day is it , lad?" Hal counters, (I love this entire exchange) " Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack," I'll not reproduce the entirety of the exchange but as I was getting to. Hal wants to know whats on Falstaff's mind, which is basically Falstaff needs to know whats to become of him when Hal is king? Sir John has fears that his meal ticket is going to leave his drinking buddies behind. Hal knows its what people are thinking, does he care? I'd say yes. is there much he can do about it?,
I'd say not likely. I'm not a historian but I do know that there are proprieties between kings and knaves. even if only heir to the throne as yet. I think this idea of mine is hit home when further on in the scene we learn that Hal has covered many of Falstaff's tavern debts.
Anyway, I enjoy their banter, But Hal is the kid who is carful to ensure, his is the upper hand.
I think we see Hals mind working with premeditation through out the plays he's written in.



Last edited by Taylor on Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Taylor wrote:
Quote:
Geo wrote:
Hal's arc as a character seems kind of stilted. You don't see much of his lusty, bawdy side and he announces at the end of Act I that he will soon start acting like the future king that he is. There's no crisis that prompts this change in the story. Hal just metamorphizes into a noble breed. His reputation precedes him.


I like what your saying here, It got me to re-re-read the beginning of act 1 scene 2, the intro to Hal and Falstaff.
To me the bawdy language conceals what only becomes obvious at the close of the scene.

we are introduced to the future king engaged in what is presumed to be a silly situation, but the dialog is quit serious if you consider a premeditation on Hals part. Hal is in control of his environment. Falstaff asks a facetious question," Now Hal, what time of day is it , lad?" Hal counters, (I love this entire exchange) " Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack," I'll not reproduce the entirety of the exchange but as I was getting to. Hal wants to know whats on Falstaff's mind, which is basically Falstaff needs to know whats to become of him when Hal is king? Sir John has fears that his meal ticket is going to leave his drinking buddies behind. Hal knows its what people are thinking, does he care? I'd say yes. is there much he can do about it?,
I'd say not likely. I'm not a historian but I do know that there are proprieties between kings and knaves. even if only heir to the throne as yet. I think this idea of mine is hit home when further on in the scene we learn that Hal has covered many of Falstaff's tavern debts.
Anyway, I enjoy their banter, But Hal is the kid who is carful to ensure, his is the upper hand.
I think we see Hals mind working with premeditation through out the plays he's written in.


I think I know what you mean that Hal is always careful to have the upper hand. Falstaff and Poins are well aware of Hal's future as king. And Hal himself must reconcile himself to his lot in life. And though he's hanging around with the guys, he's always the Prince in waiting. He is keenly aware of the reckoning that some day will come. There's no getting around it. But even now I think he bears himself in a noble way and outdoes Falstaff in most or all their witty banter.

His relationship with Falstaff is curious though. The two badger each other constantly with wittty banter. There are some great insults in this play. Hal reminds me of Hamlet in that respect. He's a very intelligent guy who always seeks to amuse himself, and Falstaff is the perfect foil. If I got anything out of my Shakespeare course, it was the concept of literary foil, which Shakespeare uses a lot in all of his plays. A foil is a "character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character." (Wikipedia). Shakespeare arguably uses Hotspur as a foil for Hal as well. He also contrasts high drama of the state with the lowlife antics of Hal and his comrades. That's a kind of foil as well.

Anyway, I love these scenes too. Hal telling Falstaff that he has no need to know the time because all he does is drink and carouse and sleep on benches until noon. Presumably the only prop in this scene is the bench on which Falstaff lies as he wakes up to greet the day, asking what time it is. "What a devil hast thou to do with the time of day?" Hal says.


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Quote:
Geo wrote: His relationship with Falstaff is curious though.


It is, It also allows one to speculate their early relationship, such as was Falstaff a landed knight at any time? if so what happened that he ends up sleeping on that bench?. I can picture in my mind these two meeting at some kings court, certainly Falstaff would carry his gregarious nature with him, Hal could easily recognize a kindred spirit. anyway fun to imagine. unpaid debt would put Falstaff on the outs with typical gentry.

Quote:
Shakespeare arguably uses Hotspur as a foil for Hal as well. He also contrasts high drama of the state with the lowlife antics of Hal and his comrades. That's a kind of foil as well.


They certainly are contrasting, When we meet Hotspur he called before the man (Henry IV).[ My lunch break is over heading back to work]



Last edited by Taylor on Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Taylor wrote:
. . . was Falstaff a landed knight at any time? if so what happened that he ends up sleeping on that bench?


I just finished Act IV this morning. And Hal makes sure that Falstaff contributes to the war effort as the King's army moves north. So he is a nobleman of sorts, obviously one who's broke.


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
You've managed to get a bit ahead of me, but not to worry I'll plunge ahead.

Quote:
Geo wrote:
Shakespeare arguably uses Hotspur as a foil for Hal as well. He also contrasts high drama of the state with the lowlife antics of Hal and his comrades. That's a kind of foil as well.


I'm trying to get a handle on Hotspur, One thing I find bold about his character is the way he goes right at the king when his life is essentially obliged to his sovereign King! such balderdash, brazen brass bald defiance!. The King is forgiving or obliging at least, to a kid he's wished was his own, the King has a soft spot for Hotspur, Does this make the King weak in this respect?.

Hotspur (giddy-up) He really is not much different from Falstaff in so far as he wants to know what's in it for him?
Do his pockets fatten up with this "ingrate and cankered Bolingbroke" or is he better served by a brother in law the rightful heir to the throne? "Why, it can not choose to be a noble plot, and then the power of Scotland and of York to join with Mortimer, Ha".



Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:35 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Oh yes! That is why i took a dislike to Hotspur, though fond of Falstaff. I think Falstaff sees through more of the injustice and false honour in their world, while Hotspur just takes it for granted. Hotspur is not much of a thinker.


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Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:53 am
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Hotspur's name suits him. Young and brash with a choleric temperament.

Shakespeare originally had a different name for Falstaff. It was Oldcastle after an old nobleman, but he changed the name or maybe was asked to change his name so as not to offend one of his relatives. There's actually textual evidence in the play that supports the idea that Shakespeare had once used Oldcastle. Hal refers to Falstaff as "my old lad of the castle" in 1.2.40. Also in Act 2, one of the characters utters this line: "Away, good Ned. Falstaff sweats to death." Those who know about these things say this line is metrically irregular. But if "Oldcastle" (with three syllables) is substituted for "Falstaff" it then becomes regular. Can you believe it?


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
I’ve watched the video a few times now, and it gets better each time.
Henry 1V had very good reason to refuse to ransom Mortimer, who was after all, named by Richard 11 as his successor.
Hotspur remarks on the terror he sees in Henry 1V’s face at the mention of Mortimer’s name.

And when I urged the ransome once again
Of my wife’s brother, then his cheek looked pale,
And on my face he turned an eye of death,
Trembling even at the name of Mortimer.

Hotspur is too hot headed to think logically, and easily manipulated. How could he believe that the king could possibly entertain the notion of paying a ransom? Mortimer has just lost a thousand soldiers in battle, their bodies were mutilated by Welsh women, and he has supposedly fallen madly in love with the daughter of his enemy, Glyndower. At a time when all marriages of the nobility were arranged? I don’t think so, and neither does the King. He accuses Hotspur of lying.

Thou dost belie him, Percy, thou dost belie him,
He never did encounter with Glendower.

Indicating that he understands that Owain and Mortimer are in an alliance.
In temper, Hotspur constantly interrupts his uncle and father, His father chides him

Why, what a wasp-stung and impatient fool
Art thou to break into this woman’s mood.
Tying thine ear to no tongue but thine own!

What a difference to the King’s opinion of Hotspur! Neither father thinks very much of their children. But both Worcester and his father Northumberland take the opportunity to tell Hotspur that King Richard had named Mortimer as his successor, and from thereon are able to reign in his temper for their own means. Northumberland is certain of the support of the Archbishop of York, whose brother King Henry murdered.
Hotspur fantasises about being the sole epitome of honour ‘To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,’ while Falstaff thinks of themselves as without honour ‘gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon.’
And what of young Prince Hal? His banter with Falstaff has very cruel undertones. Is his friendship with the lower classes a way of taking revenge on his father? He seems the opposite of Hotspur, very cold and calculating, while pretending to be everyone’s friend.


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Quote:
heledd wrote:
I’ve watched the video a few times now, and it gets better each time.


I'm not watching a performance, but rather reading an annotated book. I totally agree though, It gets more interesting the further into the story I get, I find my self reviewing parts already read. back an forth, it slows down forward momentum. but for me has thickened the read. I can only imagine your having to rewind the video, or re-watching, to pick-up subtleties that aren't evident on first viewing.
I like your take on both fathers not trusting the thinking or actions of the two Henry's, its interesting that it takes a battle to death for either father to gain true respect for their respective kid.



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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Some of the history surrounding the succession of English kings can make your head spin. In Act 1, Henry IV is still thinking about a crusade to help alleviate some of his guilt in usurping the throne, and to help unite the English people against a common enemy. But these hopes are dashed right away as the King receives reports of unrest in his kingdom. Most notably, Westmoreland tells the King, Edmund Mortimer has been captured by the Welsh.

. . . the noble Mortimer
Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight
Against the irregular and wild Glendower,
Was by rude hands of that Welshman taken,
A thousand of his people butchered

But the King is disinclined to pay for Edmund Mortimer's ransom. Why? We are told that Mortimer was mentioned by the dying deposed Richard II as the rightful heir to the throne, ahead of Henry IV.

Looking at the geneology is pretty complicated. But, briefly, you have to look back to the reign of Edward III who was king of England from 1327 to his death in 1377, and who had seven sons. Richard II was the son of Edward III's first son (Edward the Black Prince), so very much a rightful king. After the death of Richard II, the rightful heir to the throne would come from the line of Edward III's second son, and, failing that, the line of the third son, etc.

In fact, Edmund Mortimer was the son of the third son. So rightfully he was next in line for the throne.

However, in fact there were two Edmund Mortimers, and the Edmund Mortimer who was captured by the Welsh was not the son of the third son. He was actually an uncle of the 5th Earl of March, at best third in line to the throne. (It actually doesn't make sense that a man who has a legitimate claim to the throne would be given an army to fight for the King anyway.)

It turns out that Holinshed, an English chronicler, made a mistake with the two Edmunds. And since Shakespeare was using Holinshed, he made the same mistake.

Ahh, but it doesn't really matter. We know Shakespeare's history isn't very accurate. You don't read the Bard for a history lesson, we read it for the drama. :-)

NOTE: All this is from Isaac Asimov's "Guide To Shakespeare."


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 1
Hi Geo, Thanks for that.
I'm a bit wary of Shakespeare's histories from what little I know of the actual history.
It doesn't really matter as Asimov says, as Shakepeare is crafting a drama and holds up a mirror to society,relationships and human nature in all it's aspects.His mastery of language is often at the heart of things.
I never did work out how to upload extracts even though you tried to help me with this. Anyway I'll plod on and transcribe sparingly to give some original lines from the play itself,where worthwhile.



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