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Author Topic: Henry IV Part 1 Essay 1  (Read 6956 times)  Share 

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Shenz0r

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Henry IV Part 1 Essay 1
« on: September 15, 2012, 10:20:36 pm »
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Hey guys, this is my first Shakespeare essay on Henry IV for a very long time. It's been around 4 months since I last wrote a text response essay, so yeah, this isn't too great I guess.

In Henry IV Part 1, nobody is truly what they seem. Discuss.

Set during the political and social unrest that bestowed England during the early-15th century, William Shakespeare’s historical play, Henry IV Part 1, is faithfully tinged with the notion of the ever-changing disguise of identity. Prince Hal, “the blessed sun of heaven”, stands above the crumbling world of nobility and lawless rebels in his ability to deceive and manipulate, allowing him to “falsify men’s hopes”. While looked down upon as the “shadow of succession”, Hal’s Machiavellian desire to make his reformation appear more dramatic represents a startling intent of self-control and cold calculation, much to the chagrin of Henry. The Percy family’s misunderstanding of King Henry’s actions and conscience leads to an inevitable conflict, but we are obliged to feel empathetic as we witness Henry’s struggle to assuage himself from his inner guilt. Moreover, Shakespeare endeavours to portray the flamboyant “hare-brained” Hotspur as being manipulated by human deceit. Therefore, disguise and unpredictability are essential for survival during times of war. Yet he also conveys that the personalities can be moulded and shaped in accordance to how our situations fit with our desires. For Shakespeare, the characters are thrust into challenging circumstances that demand them to change their disposable identities.

Shakespeare’s portrayal of the aged King Henry is attached with a sense of sympathy, as we witness the Percy family’s misunderstanding of Henry’s predicament. Henry’s paranoia towards the Percy family arises from his guilt of a double sin: for usurping Richard’s throne and for the subsequent murder of Richard. While not directly responsible for Richard’s murder, Henry’s title is seen by the Percy family as the “too indirect for long continuance”, suggesting that he is in possession of a borrowed title. By referring to Henry as an “ingrate and cankered Bolingbroke”, Hotspur illustrates Henry as a man who has not rightfully earned his kinship. Such fiery language and disrespect further denigrates Henry’s perceived capacity as a king as we are made aware of the rebel’s suspicion that Henry will “make [them] strangers to his looks of love”. His image is further complicated by his decision to break “oath on oath” and commit “wrong on wrong” by imprisoning “revolted” Mortimer, who is the rightful blood heir to the throne, suggesting that the Percy’s families view on Henry’s fearful rule is somewhat justified. Worcester compares him to a treacherous “cuckoo”, dehumanising Henry as a weak tyrant, intent on executing the “first and dearest of [his] friends” for his own benefit. However, we see that Henry genuinely seeks an end to England’s internal strife and that he is also a father plagued with disappointment over his son’s riotous behaviour. His first words in the play, “So shaken as we are, so wan with care” demonstrate his weariness over his troubled conscience, which has not only been worn out by civil wars and state affairs, but also by his continued desire for atonement for having deposed Richard II. He is a man who is unable to move on and reconcile with the past, which is ultimately the reason for his dismissal of Worcester and Northumberland from his council. Juxtaposing the Percy family’s impressions of Henry with his myriad of personal problems, Shakespeare portends that such lethal wars and issues could have been avoided had the parties devoted the necessary time to sympathise with each other’s concerns - it can be said that the Percy’s suspicious misinterpretation of Henry’s actions serves as a catalyst for rebellion. Thus, Shakespeare suggests that the Percy’s perception of Henry does not coincide with the reality, and severe conflicts have arisen as a result.

Additionally, Shakespeare portrays the dangers of being excessively predictable, as there is a tendency for others to manipulate them as pawns for their own self-interest. From the beginning of the play, Shakespeare establishes the “infant warrior” Hotspur as being aggressive and extremely valiant - he unhesitatingly rebels against the divine force of King Henry. His tendency to chase after honorific ideals, instead of practically thinking and planning, undermines his capability as a military strategist, with Northumberland calling him a “wasp-stung and impatient fool”. This presents him as being typically susceptible to rash knee-jerk responses. The “wasp-stung” imagery exemplifies Hotspur as being blinded by constant arousals of honour from the dire reality at hand, as we are made aware of his dispositional and intellectual limitations – fundamental flaws which are known to his allies. Although he is initially eager for rebellion, Hotspur considers the prospect of peace after Sir Blunt’s visit to the rebel camp. While he is renowned for impetuous nature, Hotspur’s offer of withdrawal to Sir Blunt indicates his awareness of the precarious situation his army is in. However, towards the beginning of the Battle of Shrewsbury, Worcester decides to not inform Hotspur of Henry’s offer of peaceful reconciliation. Wanting to protect his own welfare, and fully understanding his own nephew’s hot headedness, Worcester incites Hotspur, “govern’d by a spleen” of hot temper, into committing his army for battle after falsely informing him of alleged slurs against his family. Hotspur then leads his unprepared army into the ill-fated battle, dooming his rebel cause to failure. Hotspur’s emotional conscience can be easily detected, lacking the unpredictability needed to outsmart both his enemies and his allies. Thus, it can be said that Hotspur’s predictable personality makes him heavily susceptible to manipulation, contributing to the futile downfall of his army and himself.

While such dispositions of youth are ubiquitously calamitous, Shakespeare presents youthful identity as being adaptable to the ever-changing circumstances of fate and duty. Prince Hal, for example, is seen by Hotspur as a “nimble-footed madcap”. However, he tells us of his reason to associate with the cronies of the Eastcheap tavern: to stain his public imagery with “riot and dishonour” so that his emergence as a true prince will become more impressive. His wilful desire to purposely denigrate his image represents his sly intelligence as he exhibits the psychological machinations required for a king. He juxtaposes himself with the “beauty” of the “sun”, which is smothered up by the “foul and ugly mists” of the “contagious cloud” in the tavern. By referring to the low reputation of the commoners, Shakespeare conveys that our image is deeply influenced by the types of people who we are commonly seen with; Hal’s eventual plan to banish his “unrestrained loose companions” stems from the fact that the people who he associates with reflect his “displeasing” image. Shakespeare insinuates that this line of thinking is terribly misguided as our prejudice and stereotypical tendencies distorts our judgement, and that one’s appearance may not always represent their inner selves. Furthermore, Shakespeare implies that as people age, the capacity to throw away their habits and “loose behaviour[s ]” diminishes with time; thus, he suggests that youth, when prompted for further development, is flexible to change. As Hal develops the emotional maturity and leadership required for a king, he will seek to eliminate his past associates who will “strangle” the stability of his reign, demonstrating that such associations are lethal and detrimental to his public image as king. Hence, Shakespeare presents Hal as wanting to redeem himself by cleansing himself of “shame” by wearing a “garment full of blood”. Hal’s words and intents are an emblematic portrayal of the natural tension between his behaviour and the kingly role that he is to assume. Thus, Shakespeare conveys that Hal is not yet ready to act as regally as he should seem to be.

For Shakespeare, it is therefore one’s intrinsic destiny which ultimately forces the unveiling of their true character. Hal is thrust into the eventual situation where he must assume his “princely privilege” – the Battle of Shrewsbury. Seeing Hal accompany his father to the battlefield, Vernon paints a dazzling picture of Hal riding to battle, “glittering in gold coasts” and “gallantly armed”. We see Hal as a “fiery Pegasus” ordained from the divinity of the royal blood. As an audience we cannot deny the charm of his nobility, as we witness him depart from his previous life of “such barren pleasures” to the prince who “England did never owe so sweet a hope”. Moreover, his desire to challenge Hotspur for his glory and honour highlights the fact that Hal wants to prove his royal character through heroic actions, simply because he views nobility as something that is acquired through one’s valiant intentions, rather than something that is bequeathed through blood inheritance.  He swears to Henry that after he defeats Hotspur he will finally “be bold to tell [him] that [he] is [Henry’s] son”. Furthermore, we are made aware of his changed attitude towards Falstaff in the middle of the Battle, as he visibly expresses his frustration towards Falstaff’s cowardice, angrily throwing his bottle of sack at him. While he has maintained a strong amity with Falstaff at the tavern, Hal cannot further tolerate Falstaff’s excessively low behaviour, exclaiming that it is not the “time to jest and dally”. Such behaviour earns Hal the respect of Henry, who, instead of referring to Hal as his “nearest and dearest enemy”, affectionately calls him “son Harry”. The entirety of Acts IV and V demonstrate Hal’s inevitable development from a royal icon of bad behaviour to his valiant self. Having the vantage of retrospect, the audience will view Hal’s reformation as exceptionally admirable, as he has planned all along.

In essence, Shakespeare asserts that Henry’s rejection of the Percy family does not necessarily reflect his complete character, due to his burdened state of mind. Moreover, Shakespeare demonstrates the predictability of youth is susceptible to the deceit of human nature, a lethal flaw which eventually results in Hotspur’s downfall. It is, however, the flexibility of youth which allows Hal to assume different personas in accordance to the situations that he finds himself in – and that it is his actions, rather than who he presents himself as, which highlights the authenticity of his princely character. His reformation surprises even those who are the closest to him, and thus it is no surprise that Hotspur’s anticipated rashness is trumped by Hal’s intelligence. Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 thus demonstrates that identity is a flexible notion that is not only judged by our actions towards other people, but that, if manipulated skilfully enough, it can also be used for anybody’s self-interests.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 09:49:54 pm by Shenz0r »
2012 ATAR: 99.20
2013-2015: Bachelor of Biomedicine (Microbiology/Immunology: Infections and Immunity) at The University of Melbourne
2016-2019: Doctor of Medicine (MD4) at The University of Melbourne

VivaTequila

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Re: Henry IV Part 1 Essay 1
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 02:43:54 pm »
+8
Sure, I'll bite. Just be aware that I'm pretty crass when it comes to marking - I'm not very diplomatic and I'll tell you how it is. However, I'm pretty spot on, if not slightly generous with my marking. I'd give you something accurate, if not slightly higher than the mark you can expect to get. At least compared to other English markers on here anyway.

Also note that I'm not marking you on relevance to the text because I haven't studied it. I'm going to be marking you on your essay writing skills.

Things in strikethrough I didn't like for one reason or another. Asterisks, e.g. (*1), (*2) are comments at the end of the paragraph.

In Henry IV Part 1, nobody is truly what they seem. Discuss.

Set during the political and social unrest that bestowed(*1) England during the early-15th century, William Shakespeare’s historical play, Henry IV Part 1, is faithfully tinged with the notion of the ever-changing disguise of identity. Prince Hal, “the blessed sun of heaven”, stands above the crumbling world of nobility and lawless rebels in his ability to deceive and manipulate, allowing him to “falsify men’s hopes”. While looked down upon as the “shadow of succession”, Hal’s Machiavellian desire to make his reformation appear more dramatic represents a startling intent of self-control and cold calculation, much to the chagrin of Henry. The Percy family’s misunderstanding of King Henry’s actions and conscience leads to an inevitable conflict, but we are obliged to feel empathetic as we witness Henry’s(*2) struggle to assuage himself from his inner guilt. Moreover, Shakespeare endeavours to portray the flamboyant “hare-brained” Hotspur as being manipulated by human deceit. Therefore, disguise and unpredictability are essential for survival during times of war. Yet he(*3) also conveys that the personalities can be moulded and shaped in accordance to how our situations fit with our desires(*4). For Shakespeare, the characters are thrust into challenging circumstances that demand them to change their disposable identities.

(*1) Bestowed is not the correct word - it's a verb. Maybe "was prevalent in" would work better.
(*2) Clunky expression. Maybe something like "The Percy family misinterprets King Henry's [blah blah blah]" would work better.
(*3) The author
(*4) You've changed tense here. Keep it 3rd person. "Yet the author also conveys that personality can be moulded and shaped in accordance with how one's situation correlates to one's desires." or something to that effect.

nb, 7 or 8 / 10



Shakespeare’s portrayal of the aged King Henry is attached with a sense of sympathy, as we witness the Percy family’s misunderstanding of Henry’s predicament(*1). Henry’s paranoia towards the Percy family arises from his guilt of a double sin: for usurping Richard’s throne and for the subsequent murder of Richard. While not directly responsible for Richard’s murder, Henry’s title is seen by the Percy family as the “too indirect for long continuance”, suggesting that he is in possession of a borrowed title. By referring to Henry as an “ingrate and cankered Bolingbroke”, Hotspur illustrates Henry as(*3) a man who has not rightfully earned his kinship. Such fiery language and disrespect further denigrates Henry’s perceived capacity as a king as we are made aware of the rebel’s suspicion that Henry will “make [them] strangers to his looks of love”. His image is further complicated by his decision to break “oath on oath” and commit “wrong on wrong” by imprisoning “revolted” Mortimer, who is the rightful blood heir to the throne, suggesting that the Percy’s families view on Henry’s fearful rule is somewhat justified. Worcester compares him to a treacherous “cuckoo”, dehumanising Henry as a weak tyrant, intent on executing the “first and dearest of [his] friends” for his own benefit. However, we see that Henry genuinely seeks an end to England’s internal strife and that he is also a father plagued with disappointment over his son’s riotous behaviour. His first words in the play, “So shaken as we are, so wan with care” demonstrate his weariness over his troubled conscience, which has not only been worn out by civil wars and state affairs, but also by his continued desire for atonement for having deposed Richard II. He is a man who is unable to move on and reconcile with the past, which is ultimately the reason for his dismissal of Worcester and Northumberland from his council. Juxtaposing the Percy family’s impressions of Henry with his myriad of personal problems, Shakespeare portends that such lethal wars and issues could have been avoided had the parties devoted the necessary time to sympathise with each other’s concerns - it can be said that the Percy’s suspicious misinterpretation of Henry’s actions serves as a catalyst for rebellion. Thus, Shakespeare suggests that the Percy’s perception of Henry does not coincide with the reality, and severe conflicts have arisen as a result.

(*1) Clunky expression
(*2) "of a double sin"? Again, strange expression - this doesn't tell me whose double sin and is vague. "Of" is not the right word/preposition(?) in this case.
(*3) is

Fucking amazing paragraph, great attention to detail and the in-depth analysis of their dialogue is fantastic. 8 or 9 / 10


Additionally, Shakespeare portrays the dangers of being excessively predictable, as there is a tendency for others to manipulate them as pawns for their own self-interest. From the beginning of the play, Shakespeare establishes the “infant warrior” Hotspur as being aggressive and extremely valiant - he unhesitatingly rebels against the divine force of King Henry. His tendency to chase after honorific ideals, instead of practically thinking and planning, undermines his capability as a military strategist, with Northumberland calling him a “wasp-stung and impatient fool”. This presents him as being typically susceptible to rash knee-jerk responses. The “wasp-stung” imagery exemplifies Hotspur as being blinded by constant arousals of honour from the dire reality at hand, as we are made aware of his dispositional and intellectual limitations – fundamental flaws which are known to his allies. Although he is initially eager for rebellion, Hotspur considers the prospect of peace after Sir Blunt’s visit to the rebel camp. While he is renowned for impetuous nature, Hotspur’s offer of withdrawal to Sir Blunt indicates his awareness of the precarious situation his army is in. However, towards the beginning of the Battle of Shrewsbury, Worcester decides to not inform Hotspur of Henry’s offer of peaceful reconciliation. Wanting to protect his own welfare, and fully understanding his own nephew’s hot headedness, Worcester incites Hotspur, “govern’d by a spleen” of hot temper, into committing his army for battle after falsely informing him of alleged slurs against his family. Hotspur then leads his unprepared army into the ill-fated battle, dooming his rebel cause to failure. Hotspur’s emotional conscience can be easily detected, lacking the unpredictability needed to outsmart both his enemies and his allies. Thus, it can be said that Hotspur’s predictable personality makes him heavily susceptible to manipulation, contributing to the futile downfall of his army and himself.

I can't tell if this is story telling or not because I haven't read the book, but to an outsider, it's ostensible that it is. I'd err on the side of caution, but it's probably wiser to take it as it is and accept it, because it was incredibly fluent and seemed accurate. I give this paragraph anything between an 8 to a 10 out of 10, depending on the relevancy of the subject matter to the prompt. There seem to be high tier ideas, especially the way in which you've discussed his shortcomings as a "military strategist". All of the expression is calculated in here - it's punchy, succinct, and generally pretty impressive. I'll leave it up to you to decide - if you know this was a killer paragraph, then take it as a 10 from me. However if you know you could've used better examples or explained it better, then give it an 8. I'm giving you the option because I haven't read the book, and I don't know the tier of these ideas - but you're definitely making them sound pretty good.

While such dispositions of youth are ubiquitously calamitous, Shakespeare presents youthful identity as being adaptable to the ever-changing circumstances of fate and duty. Prince Hal, for example, is seen by Hotspur as a “nimble-footed madcap”. However, he tells us of his reason to associate with the cronies of the Eastcheap tavern: to stain his public imagery with “riot and dishonour” so that his emergence as a true prince will become more impressive. His wilful desire to purposely denigrate(*1) his image represents his sly intelligence as he exhibits the psychological machinations required for a king. He juxtaposes himself with the “beauty” of the “sun”, which is smothered up by the “foul and ugly mists” of the “contagious cloud” in the tavern. By referring to the low reputation of the commoners, Shakespeare conveys that our image is deeply influenced by the types of people who we are commonly seen with; Hal’s eventual plan to banish his “unrestrained loose companions” stems from the fact that the people who he associates with reflect his “displeasing” image. Shakespeare insinuates that this line of thinking is terribly misguided as our prejudice and stereotypical tendencies distorts our judgement, and that one’s appearance may not always represent their inner selves. Furthermore, Shakespeare implies that as people age, the capacity to throw away their habits and “loose behaviour” diminishes with time; thus, he suggests that youth, when prompted for further development, is flexible to change. As Hal develops the emotional maturity and leadership required for a king, he will seek to eliminate his past associates who will “strangle” the stability of his reign, demonstrating that such associations are lethal and detrimental to his public image as king. Hence, Shakespeare presents Hal as wanting to redeem himself by cleansing himself of “shame” by wearing a “garment full of blood”. Hal’s words and intents are an emblematic portrayal of the natural tension between his behaviour and the kingly role that he is to assume. Thus, Shakespeare conveys that Hal is not yet ready to act as regally as he should seem to be.

(*1) You've used denigrate too many times and it's becoming noticeable. Generally great expression throughout, but when an examiner notices something like this against a backdrop of (mostly) flawless expression, it stands out like a fly in the milk. Be super careful - I know you have the ability, just tread carefully.
(*2) One's appearances, oneself.

Again, fucking top paragraph. 8 or 9 out of 10, depending on relevance of ideas. Few expression mistakes which detracted this from being a possible 10.


For Shakespeare, it is therefore one’s intrinsic destiny which ultimately forces the unveiling of their true character. Hal is thrust into the eventual situation where he must assume his “princely privilege” – the Battle of Shrewsbury. Seeing Hal accompany his father to the battlefield, Vernon paints a dazzling picture of Hal riding to battle, “glittering in gold coasts” and “gallantly armed”. We see Hal as a “fiery Pegasus” ordained from the divinity of the royal blood. As an audience we cannot deny the charm of his nobility, as we witness him depart from his previous life of “such barren pleasures” to the prince who “England did never owe so sweet a hope”. Moreover, his desire to challenge Hotspur for his glory and honour highlights the fact that Hal wants to prove his royal character through heroic actions, simply because he views nobility as something that is acquired through one’s valiant intentions, rather than something that is bequeathed through blood inheritance.  He swears to Henry that after he defeats Hotspur he will finally “be bold to tell [him] that [he] is [Henry’s] son”. Furthermore, we are made aware of his changed attitude towards Falstaff in the middle of the Battle, as he visibly expresses his frustration towards Falstaff’s cowardice, angrily throwing his bottle of sack at him. While he has maintained a strong amity with Falstaff at the tavern, Hal cannot further tolerate Falstaff’s excessively low behaviour, exclaiming that it is not the “time to jest and dally”. Such behaviour earns Hal the respect of Henry, who, instead of referring to Hal as his “nearest and dearest enemy”, affectionately calls him “son Harry”. The entirety of Acts IV and V demonstrate Hal’s inevitable development from a royal icon of bad behaviour to his valiant self. Having the vantage of retrospect, the audience will view Hal’s reformation as exceptionally admirable, as he has planned all along.

Great paragraph again, flawless expression. I really, really like the way your write. In a paragraph like this when there's no ostensible expession flaws, you just get taken on a "journey" as an assessor through an argument, which is a lovely experience. When everything is logically argued, makes sense, and is delivered in short, punchy points, with reference to the book and character relationships, it's really, really nice to read. 10/10 without a doubt.

In essence, Shakespeare asserts that Henry’s rejection of the Percy family does not necessarily reflect his complete character, due to his burdened state of mind. Moreover, Shakespeare demonstrates the predictability of youth is susceptible to the deceit of human nature, a lethal flaw which eventually results in Hotspur’s downfall. It is, however, the flexibility of youth which allows Hal to assume different personas in accordance to the situations that he finds himself in – and that it is his actions, rather than who he presents himself as, which highlights the authenticity of his princely character. His reformation surprises even those who are the closest to him, and thus it is no surprise that Hotspur’s anticipated rashness is trumped by Hal’s intelligence. Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 thus demonstrates that identity is a flexible notion that is not only judged by our actions towards other people, but that, if manipulated skilfully enough, it can also be used for anybody’s self-interests.(*1)


(*1) There's surely a better way to say "anybody's self-interests" - that's not the kind of stuff you want to be putting at the end of a concluding paragraph for an essay of this calibre.

I'd give this a 9 out of 10. All of the ideas seem to be pretty high-tech, reasoned well, with attentive detail to the messages and relationships in the text. You've discussed some pretty tacit ideas and argued them incredibly well, and the significance of this ability to summarise and capture the text at any point that's relevant to the prompt is what's going to enable you to score highly.

Just watch your expression ;)

Great essay buddy
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 02:49:24 pm by VivaTequila »

Shenz0r

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Re: Henry IV Part 1 Essay 1
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 09:23:22 pm »
0
Thanks for the in-depth feedback, I really appreciate it!
2012 ATAR: 99.20
2013-2015: Bachelor of Biomedicine (Microbiology/Immunology: Infections and Immunity) at The University of Melbourne
2016-2019: Doctor of Medicine (MD4) at The University of Melbourne