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Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5 
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5
I found the Bloom book the other day, Its where I pulled the quote from, but I'm leery of the outside influence as I might loose my thoughts, in exchange for someone else's, Bloom is certainly beyond me, I've only just recently ever read any WS. I bought the book thinking it will gain me better insight into the plays, and it seems it may, but as I say to much of another's insight might over influence my own.

I watched the trailer, Wells was a giant of his time, I consider myself a fan. I'm interested in his take on Falstaff.

I believe Falstaff's freedom is more about the intellect than the physical act of freedom, as we well know medieval freedom is an oxymoron. I also think that Falstaff's vulnerabilities are derived from his perverse honesty, granting he is debauched and thieving, he is still dreaming of a better way, as for those around him its their choice to come along for the ride. I think the Falstaff's wit is knowledge of life that the young don't have yet, he knows this and in his way imparts.



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Flann 5
Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:03 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5
Taylor wrote:
I believe Falstaff's freedom is more about the intellect than the physical act of freedom, as we well know medieval freedom is an oxymoron. I also think that Falstaff's vulnerabilities are derived from his perverse honesty, granting he is debauched and thieving, he is still dreaming of a better way, as for those around him its their choice to come along for the ride. I think the Falstaff's wit is knowledge of life that the young don't have yet, he knows this and in his way imparts.

Hi Taylor, thanks.
I suppose he would be entertaining company.He has his own philosophy which boils down to self preservation, and his view of reality is true in many ways. Still, I think his cynicism is self destructive, and destructive of others and I think Shakespeare shows this.
The philosophy itself is reactionary and he seems inexorably set on his rakish course. No expiatory crusades for him!
In fact he speaks of himself as being at the wrong end of many years of living this way.
He does at the very end of part one, speak of amending his ways as befits a nobleman,as he says.
Overall though he's resigned that there's hell to pay,but not just yet!
An interesting character for sure and not thoughtless, and though a comic character, there's a tragedy in there too,I think.



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Taylor
Tue Dec 23, 2014 6:51 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5
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Flann 5 wrote:
I suppose he would be entertaining company.He has his own philosophy which boils down to self preservation, and his view of reality is true in many ways. Still, I think his cynicism is self destructive, and destructive of others and I think Shakespeare shows this.
The philosophy itself is reactionary and he seems inexorably set on his rakish course. No expiatory crusades for him!
In fact he speaks of himself as being at the wrong end of many years of living this way.
He does at the very end of part one, speak of amending his ways as befits a nobleman,as he says.
Overall though he's resigned that there's hell to pay,but not just yet!
An interesting character for sure and not thoughtless, and though a comic character, there's a tragedy in there too,I think.


All true and all too true indeed.

Falstaff's story had to be written as it was, if written any other way it would be someone else's story. Think if Hal hadn't rejected Jack, what change would WS have written for Jack? Nobility perchance? it would have distorted the reality of Jack. Rewriting Falstaff would be rewriting history, a rewrite of real people into unreal persona. There was no example for WS to draw from as I can see, story wise at least. Even Hals metamorphosis to the pious Henry 5 to me has a fecundity about it, a coming of age comes to what? A sell out that's what. WS's hands were tied by the times, as were Hals and our trodden Jack, his end is the bitter end of the vagabond, the biting death of the unknown artists travel on roads less taken. I applaud Hal for ultimately living up to expectation but at the price of what? the maintenance of the status quo.

Once again I appeal to Harold Bloom; "As for exercising moral disapproval upon Falstaff- why, who is there in the Henriad whom we could prefer to Fat Jack? Henry 4, hypocrite and usurper, is not an option, nor is Hal/Henry 5, hypocrite and brutal soldier, slaughter of prisoners and of his old companion Bardolph. Are we to prefer Hotspur's "die all, die merrily" to Falstaff's "Give me life"? Is Falstaff morally inferior to the treacherous Prince John? There is, of course, the Lord Chief Justice, if you have a strong taste for law enforcement as such" Though I've made my choices in life I could hardly argue against Blooms logic.


Then as now the characters work because we see Falstaffian figures in our own lives, for that matter we see Henrican drama in our own lives as well,

I'm curious, has any of you an experience with your own personal Falstaff or Henry 4 types? I can see the parallels between Hal and his old man in my own confrontations with my father when I was around twenty years old, and for much of the same behaviors, even Falstaff in the form of an old friend was there for me, my parents hated this guy.(a starving artist type, a musician really, but beyond having a great local band and a dream for a record deal, a wastrel)



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Flann 5, geo
Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:08 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5
Taylor wrote:
. . . Even Hals metamorphosis to the pious Henry 5 to me has a fecundity about it, a coming of age comes to what? A sell out that's what. WS's hands were tied by the times, as were Hals and our trodden Jack, his end is the bitter end of the vagabond, the biting death of the unknown artists travel on roads less taken. I applaud Hal for ultimately living up to expectation but at the price of what? the maintenance of the status quo.

Once again I appeal to Harold Bloom; "As for exercising moral disapproval upon Falstaff- why, who is there in the Henriad whom we could prefer to Fat Jack? Henry 4, hypocrite and usurper, is not an option, nor is Hal/Henry 5, hypocrite and brutal soldier, slaughter of prisoners and of his old companion Bardolph. Are we to prefer Hotspur's "die all, die merrily" to Falstaff's "Give me life"? Is Falstaff morally inferior to the treacherous Prince John? There is, of course, the Lord Chief Justice, if you have a strong taste for law enforcement as such" Though I've made my choices in life I could hardly argue against Blooms logic.

You make some great points, Taylor.

Falstaff defies easy categorization. He's a cad, but an honest cad, perhaps the most honest character in the play. He sees through everyone else's pretensions, thumbs his nose at the hypocrisy all around him. Though Hal becomes a good king, he still has a dark side. Recall the scene at the Boar's Head where Hal relentlessly teases the drawer (a busboy). What a hypocrite! Hal brought up by the kingdom’s finest tutors, laughing at this poor befuddled working man. Then again, Hal defies easy categorization too.

The scene where Falstaff talks about honor seems important because I think he speaks truth. To the nobles, honor means it's okay to butcher the opposite camp. It takes a brave and honest man to cut through this kind of bullshit. Who wants to die in a war when you know that it's for nothing?


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Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:51 pm
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5
Taylor wrote:
Once again I appeal to Harold Bloom; "As for exercising moral disapproval upon Falstaff- why, who is there in the Henriad whom we could prefer to Fat Jack? Henry 4, hypocrite and usurper, is not an option, nor is Hal/Henry 5, hypocrite and brutal soldier, slaughter of prisoners and of his old companion Bardolph. Are we to prefer Hotspur's "die all, die merrily" to Falstaff's "Give me life"? Is Falstaff morally inferior to the treacherous Prince John? There is, of course, the Lord Chief Justice, if you have a strong taste for law enforcement as such" Though I've made my choices in life I could hardly argue against Blooms logic.

Hi Taylor, Thanks for your ideas here. Maybe I'm taking it too seriously. Falstaff is a comic clown, largely the butt off jokes and pranks.It's the attempt to elevate him to philosophical sage that I question.
Orson Welles thinks he's really a good guy and the epitome of merry England.
I agree with Bloom that hypocrisy is rife. Hal and Hotspur are trapped in their romantic fantasy of valour,glory and honour.
Falstaff despite himself, recognises there is real value in courage and loyalty. When apparently abandoned at the robbery by Hal and Poins,he later denounces them with the vehement repetition of; "A plague on all cowards."
And in his reconstruction he exaggerates and presents himself as fighting valianty against many adversaries.The joke of course is that everyone knows he does no such thing.
Both philosophies are flawed and the realities of war and events show this.
Are the denizens and little criminals of the tavern worse than the hereditary elites with their intrigues and power struggles? I wouldn't say so.



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Taylor
Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:46 am
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Post Re: Henry IV (Part 1), Act 5
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Flann 5 wrote:
It's the attempt to elevate him to philosophical sage that I question.


Shakespeare's triumphant illusion is slight of hand, It is in the disappearing box of repugnance, That we judge Falstaff as a surface of ill-repute, inequity incarnate, ignominious, ill-favored and so on, All illusions. Falstaff's sagaciousness hides in plain sight, it is constantly in the subconscious of all the stage players and in all of us as well.

I curse the incapacity of mine own lungs, for I will drown before I reach the depths of ignorance, Falstaff forces the audiences head below the surface of intellect and challenges us to think before we breath our lungs full of water.

There is nothing vile behind the curtain, unless we consider an old fat man whom has witnessed to much of the ugly side of life to be that vile boogie man. Can we be merely repulsed by the mirror image of our selves? does he demonstrate our self loathing? when we consider the targets of his wit.

Falstaff is the scape goat for our impulse to ignore certain harms of humanity, his is the artist temperament, to paint the world as it is, not what it should be or could be for that matter. Falstaff pollinates life with a holster containing a flagon of sack! "thus ends my catechism".



Last edited by Taylor on Fri Dec 26, 2014 6:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Flann 5, geo
Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:29 pm
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