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Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4 
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 Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4

Please use this thread to discuss Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4.



Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:58 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Act 4 is a relatively quick read dealing with events leading directly up to the battle at Shrewsbury between those loyal to the King and the rebels. The rebels or resolved to take a throne but one confederate is making contingency plans. The Earl of Worcester is in his sick bed and will not attend this battle, Hotspur thinks his fathers absence "lends a luster and more great opinion, A larger dare to our great enterprise" In the mean time we have The Archbishop praying for rebel victory on bended knee, but scheming " for if Lord Percy thrive not, ere the King dismiss his power he means to visit us, for he hath heard of our confederacy"

I am going to take an opportunity to have a go at our friend Jack.

In this play I have counted 26 references to our man Falstaff's girth. So being someone who feels a kinship with Jack I thought I would list some here.

Prince "How now blown Jack?
Prince "Well, how then? Come roundly, roundly.
Prince "Falstaff sweats to death and lards the green earth as he walks along."

I know only 3, but hey throw one of your own this way.



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Flann 5
Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:53 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
I just read through the whole of Henry iv part one and the comments on the threads which were illuminating and helpful.

The Hollow Crown;strikes me as a good title for the filmed series which I haven't seen.
Historically Richard the second seems a more interesting character than either of the Henrys. He banished Bolingbroke (later Henry 4th) permanently and seized his very large chunk of land,sending out an alarming message to the landed nobility.
Richard became increasingly distrustful of the Lords of the land, and not without reason, but it advanced to paranoia and he pre-emptively struck at enemies real and imagined.
Richard became totally alienated from most of the powerful nobility who were only too happy to support Bolingbroke when he returned to reclaim his land, and then decided to add the crown and England for good measure.
Richard apparently was starved to death in prison Pontefract castle which no doubt could not have happened without the now Henry iv's approval.
So a war of rights to the crown ensues.
As for the play, much emphasis is placed on bravery and honour by the nobles on all sides. Set against the historic background of plotting ,theft and murder there is something hollow about all this. Courage in battle is commendable of course but seems like a kind of redeeming virtue for the protagonists, to offset the rest of reality.

Falstaff I think is understandably cynical, with his discretion is the better part of valour motto,and his escapade in hijacking the money of wealthy pilgrims which is headed for the kings coffers show his contempt for a corrupt self serving institution.
His cynicism though actually destroys him I think, and he's basically wasted by his excesses.

Hal is quite cynical too with his calculated role playing of lowlife. the better to shine when he performs his military heroics later.
He see through the emptiness of that life of endless sport as being worse than hard labour and really has nothing but contempt for Falstaff.
Hal's talk of the their moonlit lives with ebbs and sways from the bottom rung of the ladder to the the top of the hanging scaffold which he half jokingly,whole in earnest directs at Falstaff, is a good example.
The end is contrived with a wounded Hal rescuing his imperiled Dad from Douglas and defeating the rebel Harry (Hotspur) in hand to hand combat.
Whatever his cynicism Falstaff has no choice but to participate in the war which is the last thing he would want to do.

And also there is the hostage to fortune element of Hotspur's Dad ringing in sick for the battle, and Glendower being unable to make it so the odds are very bad. Hotspur's a hostage to his temperament too so forges on recklessly.

And again almost no one can be really trusted whether in the tavern or among the envoys of kings and leaders. There is honour neither among the thieves of the tavern or the thieving nobles of the realm it seems.
Henry does hold out terms of peace to the rebels to be fair, but even the king's intent can be thwarted by the machinations of others.
And Hal's romanticised vision of courage and honour is mocked by the realities of kingship entailed in that world.
So we have the sense of how tenuously victory or defeat can hang and the precariousness of the power they strive for.

Lots of good lines and characters and as has been said historic accuracy is not his goal.
Anyway that's my take on it. but I'm interested in the thoughts of others on it here too.



Last edited by Flann 5 on Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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geo, Taylor
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:07 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Quote:
Flann5 wrote:
Falstaff I think is understandably cynical, with his discretion is the better part of valour motto,and his escapade in hijacking the money of wealthy pilgrims which is headed for the kings coffers show his contempt for a corrupt self serving institution.
His cynicism though actually destroys him I think, and he's basically wasted by his excesses.


Falstaff seems to be one of those people who has seen to much of power from to close a perspective, which is to me partly why his actions have been pardonable by Hal at least, Hal certainly has been a buffer between Sir John Paunch and the gallows. I myself never got the impression that Hals contempt was of the despicable sort, just a complete lack of respect for a fat rouge.

By the way, good to see that you've stepped out of the trenches of non-fiction. You've had quite a run since the Carrier discussion 8)



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Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:59 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
You may be right Taylor about the relationship between Hal and Falstaff. I read through it in one go so wasn't watching too much detail. A lot of Hal's comments while presented as jest are quite ominous.
I don't actually know how things develop from here in Shakespeare's series. They have opposed values. Hal for courage and honour which Falstaff is utterly cynical about.
A lot of the characters spend a lot of time abusing each other in a joking mocking way but against the background of dishonesty and mistrust I'm not sure how much is jest. You may be right that Hal is tolerant of Falstaff and they seem to enjoy their verbal exchanges.
Yeah, I thought I'd take a break from the polemical stuff.
The question is though is Shakespeare's Henry iv myth or history!?



Last edited by Flann 5 on Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:01 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Flann 5 wrote:
Falstaff I think is understandably cynical, with his discretion is the better part of valour motto,and his escapade in hijacking the money of wealthy pilgrims which is headed for the kings coffers show his contempt for a corrupt self serving institution.
His cynicism though actually destroys him I think, and he's basically wasted by his excesses.


Hey, Flann, glad to see you on board. Thanks for your comments.

Hal really lays into Falstaff in Act 4 here, making him conscript his own army and march them west towards the eventual battle against the rebels. But instead of picking young, able-bodied men, Falstaff goes for merchants and farmers who'd rather stay home and are willing to pay Falstaff in order to get out of service. The only ones left are a bunch of ragtags and old men. There's a comic aspect of this scene, but mostly it shows Falstaff as a despicable person. Most of his men are ultimately killed in battle. It makes Hal look bad too for entrusting someone like Falstaff for such an important job.

I'm generally perplexed by Falstaff's character, only catching a glimmer of Shakespeare's deeper meaning. Harold Bloom, the famous literary critic, has said that Falstaff and Hamlet are Shakespeare's greatest creations. And, indeed, you get a sense of Falstaff as a real character who kind of comes off the page. But I'm just a newbie. It just shows that a study of Shakespeare is a lifelong process.

Something interesting happens in Act V with Falstaff and Hal, but we'll leave that for the Act V thread.


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Taylor wrote:
Act 4 is a relatively quick read dealing with events leading directly up to the battle at Shrewsbury between those loyal to the King and the rebels. The rebels or resolved to take a throne but one confederate is making contingency plans. The Earl of Worcester is in his sick bed and will not attend this battle, Hotspur thinks his fathers absence "lends a luster and more great opinion, A larger dare to our great enterprise"


Hotspur and his fellow conspirators have lost much of their cocksure arrogance that we saw in Act 3 when they were dividing England up on a map. Actually Hotspur is still pretty cocksure. Do you guys get the impression that the Earl of Worcester is really sick or is he just a fair weather conspirator? Hotspur speculates that his absence will be seen as he no longer believes in their cause, although Hotspur himself seems to accept the story that he's sick. Me, I got the feeling that the Earl is casting his lot with who he thinks is going to win, although it seems dubious that Henry IV will ever trust him again.


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Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:20 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Taylor wrote:
Falstaff seems to be one of those people who has seen to much of power from to close a perspective, which is to me partly why his actions have been pardonable by Hal at least, Hal certainly has been a buffer between Sir John Paunch and the gallows.


Hal and Falstaff seem to know each other well, don't they? You get the idea that they've been together for a while and perhaps have even fought together before.

By the way, you mentioned that many references to Falstaff's weight. There's a lot of great insulting in this play, mostly between Hal and Falstaff. But Hotspur describes the Earl of Dunbar (the letter writer in Act 2, Scene 3) as a "lack-brain" which cracked me up. Shakespeare is famous for making up compound words like this.


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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
geo wrote:
I'm generally perplexed by Falstaff's character, only catching a glimmer of Shakespeare's deeper meaning. Harold Bloom, the famous literary critic, has said that Falstaff and Hamlet are Shakespeare's greatest creations.


Hi Geo, Thanks for your thoughts here. I'm no expert on Shakespeare but I'd put King Lear ahead of Falstaff.
Tragedy seems to have greater depth than comedy. Paul Scofield played King Lear superlatively well in an old movie of that title.Well worth watching for his performance alone if you can access it.
Falstaff's cynicism though justified destroys him corrosively. There is no point in morality in that world seems to be his thinking.
I'm not sure about Worcester being really sick or not. I'd have to go back over it more carefully.
I was disappointed with the obviously contrived and not that credible ending of Hal's military exploits but I guess it's to serve the idea of valour and honour which Hal really does believe in, contrasted with Falstaff playing dead and then trying to steal the honour of killing Hotspur.
The dialogue is good allowing for the difficulty of the old English.
There was one line about a servant having a poorer vocabulary than a parrot. And his use of similes from nature are always striking.



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Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:55 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 4
Quote:
Geo wrote:
By the way, you mentioned that many references to Falstaff's weight. There's a lot of great insulting in this play, mostly between Hal and Falstaff. But Hotspur describes the Earl of Dunbar (the letter writer in Act 2, Scene 3) as a "lack-brain" which cracked me up. Shakespeare is famous for making up compound words like this.


I did a double take on "lack-brain" as well

Quote:
Geo wrote:
Do you guys get the impression that the Earl of Worcester is really sick or is he just a fair weather conspirator?


In the opening of Henry 4 Part 2 the Earl is in bed sick with worry over his kid. It could be the Earls real sickness is getting his son in this mess.


Quote:
although it seems dubious that Henry IV will ever trust him again.


All the rebels with the exception of Hotspur have expressed second thought about taking on the King.

Quote:
I'm generally perplexed by Falstaff's character,


I'm not sure how to take this guy either, WS wrote a character that is outwardly dishonest, juxtaposed to the inwardly dishonest noblesse.



Fri Dec 19, 2014 10:09 pm
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