Class Notes on King Henry IV, Part I (taken from Shakespeare and His Age class)
“Strong man” concept of rule versus Divine Right? Which is right? God is still in control of both – although man seems to get credit for the first…Look at the history of nations…
Does Falstaff really love Prince Hal?
Honor is keyword of play, according to Dr. Gurney. Time and history are also major themes.
Prince Hal is caught between two characters which represent the two sides of himself or his attitudes: Hotspur (representing the part of Hal that wants political power/has ambition, and desires honor) and Falstaff (representing the part of Hal that simply wants to live and enjoy life).
The Greek word for grace is charisma. Falstaff has lots of Charisma…although it doesn’t seem he has much grace.
Is Falstaff a combination of both Puck and Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Does Falstaff represent humanity, in how not everyone is on the road of politics?
Dr. Gurney sees these two sides as being fundamentally incompatible – how can one maintain personality, a sense of right and wrong, when they are involved in politics? He believes that politics force people to abandon themselves in a sense, and become forced to be a slave to power.
It is very obscene when religion is used for political advancement. God isn’t fooled, though. And yet, that does not mean that all “religion” in politics is wrong, does it? What does Christ say about following him? Humbleness, care for others, care for God, not allowing people to pressure you into anything, yet being incredibly aware of others’ interests and well being – more so than one’s own. SO this is compatible with politics only when it is done truly for the people, not the politicians.
But, in order to gain following, a politician must play himself up as well as become controlled by those in power, even if he does effect positive change or help the people. Sell your soul, basically…is that why Christ was so concerned with the individual? Personally helping the widow across the street instead of trying to eliminate hunger for all widows? We don’t need politics to enable us to help others, but can we still be in politics?
Daniel was, and he maintained purity of heart and integrity. Paul was, in a sense. David certainly was, but it often got him into trouble. All the Israelite judges (and Moses) were…
Is Hal a deceptive hypocrite? Or “politically accurate?”
Does he have a split personality? Or is he merely assuming his “political ruler” role? Is Hal’s soliloquy representative of his full/complete idea about his rule/ political intentions? Or is this just a part of Hal, which is later abandoned with his abandonment to revelry?
Is Hotspur incapable of disguising his motives in front of others in order to achieve his goals, as Dr. Gurney says? How do he and Hal compare? He has almost no control over himself and his emotions, while Hal has too much control, not only of himself, but also of others.
Line 15-20 of 2.2: The Percy’s/Northumberland and Bolingbroke are thieves of the throne and now are not true to each other…