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Author Topic: Henry IV, Part 1 TR Essay  (Read 2299 times)  Share 

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swagsxcboi

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Henry IV, Part 1 TR Essay
« on: October 27, 2014, 10:18:51 pm »
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any criticism/comments are appreciated  [PLS DJA/LAUREN/ANYONE]
written within 65 mins (looking back I probably should have added something about Henry)


‘Duty is portrayed as more important than friendship in Henry IV, Part 1.’ To what extent do you agree?

William Shakespeare’s play, Henry IV, Part 1 depicts a society in which individuals sacrifice relationships in order to achieve personal ambitions. Despite appearing as a wayward Prince associating with individuals unbefitting of his noble nature, Hal ultimately manipulates his friends in order to fulfil his princely endeavours. On the other hand, Hal’s ‘fat witted’ acquaintance at Eastcheap, Sir John Falstaff disregards his knightly rites and focuses on enjoying life by drinking sack and stealing with his friends. Contrary to this, ‘gallant’ Hotspur is an individual who is devoid of affection and focused on his duties to such an extent that it leads to his demise.

To the outward view, Hal is portrayed as a misguided Prince wasting time at Eastcheap. However, his cruel yet subtle allusions during his time at Eastcheap have implications that suggest Hal will change and eventually fulfil his Princely duties. When Falstaff requests to be known as ‘Diana’s foresters’, ‘minions of the moon’, ‘gentlemen of the shade’ and ‘men of good government’, Hal compares stealing to the ‘ridge of gallows’. This analogy highlights Hal’s cold nature, implying that his friendship is only temporary. This is further evidenced in Hal’s soliloquy when he symbolically refers to Falstaff as ‘base contagious clouds’ and ‘foul and ugly mists’. Moreover, Hal reveals his underlying intentions behind acquainting with Falstaff, stating he ‘will awhile uphold’ Falstaff and only ‘when he please[ s] again to be himself’ will he return to fulfilling his princely duties. Hal continues to justify his actions, claiming that his ‘reformation [will be] glittering o’er his fault’ and as a result will ‘show more goodly’ and ‘attract more eyes’. This acknowledgement that Hal is only associating with Falstaff at Eastcheap to appear transformed and therefore attract more attention illustrates Hal’s rejection of friendship to succeed as a Prince.

At the battle of Shrewsbury, Hal transforms from a ‘madcap’ prince to a ‘gallantly armed’ warrior and this change exemplifies how important his duties are to him. Hal makes a ‘blushing cital’, acknowledging his mistakes, that he has been a ‘truant…to chivalry’ before honourably praising Hotspur and offering to fight him one on one, in order to ‘save the blood on either side’. By fulfilling his Princely duties, Hal appears as a noble prince, further depicting him as a suitable heir apparent. Moreover, Hal continues to act like the ‘true prince’ as he saves his father from the ‘insulting hand’ of Douglas. By aggressively declaring; ‘it is the Prince of Wales that threatens thee’, Hal causes Douglas to flee and as a result succeeds in rescuing his father. Henry feels ‘tender’ as Hal ‘redeem[ s] [his] lost opinion’, realising that he was mistaken about his son’s capabilities. This supports the idea that Hal’s duties are of utmost importance to him, as he is more concerned about saving his father and people, rather than joking around with Falstaff. However, there is a question to whether Hal truly values his duties over his friendship as he sees Falstaff supposedly dead, he realises he will ‘heav[ily] miss’ him. His acknowledgement that he ‘could have better spared a better man’ supports the idea that whilst his princely duties are important to him, Hal does feel genuinely affectionate towards Falstaff.

Due to his cowardly and hypocritical nature, Falstaff disregards his duties during the war by pretending to be dead and instead asks to be ‘give[n]…life’. Although Hal has Machiavellian intentions behind his friendship, it is apparent that Falstaff genuinely appreciates his ‘sweet wag[‘s]’ company, as they enjoy ‘sack’, ‘capons’ and ‘leaping houses’ at Eastcheap. Falstaff acknowledges his disregard for his knightly duties, admitting that he has ‘misused the king’s press damnably’ Moreover, Falstaff’s request that if Hal ‘sees [him] down in the battle’ he should ‘bestride [him, as] a point friendship’ is rejected by Hal. His disregard for his knightly commitments coupled with his apparent affection for Hal portrays Falstaff’s honest ‘give me life’ attitude, where he is solely focused on enjoying life with his friends. Falstaff’s lack of seriousness and disregard for duty is further evident at the battle of Shrewsbury when he plays a prank on Hal, giving him a bottle of sack instead of a gun as promised. Despite Hal pleading three times; ‘Lend me thy sword’, Falstaff continues with the prank. Hal’s rejection of his joking friendship with Falstaff surfaces as he asks; ‘What, is it a time for jest and dally now?’ This stark contrast between Hal’s change and Falstaff’s disregard for the seriousness of war epitomises Shakespeare’s portrayal that duty is more important than friendship, as it leads to Hal appearing as a noble prince, and Falstaff a coward.

Undoubtedly the bravest character in the play, Hotspur is depicted as a rash warrior who disregards all aspects of his life, especially his relationship with Lady Percy, in the pursuit of honour. Disregarding his commitment to his wife, Hotspur reveals that he must leave her in order to go to war. Despite her pleas requesting him to talk, Hotspur dismisses Lady Percy; ‘no farther wise Than Harry Percy’s wife’ and degrading her as ‘woman’. His dismissive attitude towards Lady Percy, coupled with his blatant disregard for her needs leaves her feeling like a ‘banished woman’ Despite being portrayed as an individual without friends, Shakespeare’s depiction of Hotspur deeply offending his close ally, Glendower, offers an insight as to why Hotspur is friendless: his lack of emotional intelligence. By not concerning himself with the way Glendower feels about his insults, Hotspur mitigates the possible development of a friendship, as he offends both Mortimer and Glendower. Unlike Hal, instead of focusing on building relationships with individuals to succeed politically, Hotspur focuses solely on his ‘noble plot’; the rebellion to overthrow King Henry. His unhealthy obsession with honour, in junction with his impetuous nature ultimately leads to his demise. Hotspur’s sheer dedication to the rebellion surfaces when he is killed by Hal, as he reveals that he ‘better brook the loss of brittle life / Than those proud titles [Hal] hast won of [him]’. It is evident throughout the play that Hotspur is a ‘hare brained hotspur governed by a spleen’ that focuses solely on his duties as a warrior, taking no notice of his relationship with Lady Percy or his relationships with his allies.

Throughout the play, the importance of commitments differs vastly from character to character. Machiavellian Prince Hal focuses on a pursuit for political power by appearing to change by initially disregarding his duties to then abandoning his friends and finally fulfilling the tasks that are required of him. Falstaff has no regard for what’s required of him as a knight, and instead aims to pursue living a happy life enjoying sack accompanied by his friends at Eastcheap. Hotspur’s obsession with honour and duties as a warrior leads to his demise, as he disregards his relationships with his wife and allies.
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literally lauren

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Re: Henry IV, Part 1 TR Essay
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2014, 10:43:17 pm »
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will do, just gimme a minute...

literally lauren

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Re: Henry IV, Part 1 TR Essay
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 02:51:24 am »
+3
- because this prompt is dealing with general themes and not a character/scene-specific concept, it might pay to have a more general introduction, ie. one that doesn't rely so heavily on evidence. Unpack the thematic concepts instead.
- ‘Diana’s foresters’, ‘minions of the moon’, ‘gentlemen of the shade’ and ‘men of good government’ --> these are all plural terms. Modify the quotes, and I'd probably cut down from listing all four. This doesn't seem to lead on to the next point, and you don't explain the quotes at all. How does this highlight Hal's cruelty?
- 'Hal’s soliloquy when he symbolically refers to Falstaff as ‘base contagious clouds’ and ‘foul and ugly mists’.' --> similarly, these are plural terms Hal uses to refer to the entire world of Eastcheap and all it represents. Falstaff may be the epitome of this way of life, but he's not the only one Hal debases and rejects.
- 2nd para is good, however: 'This supports the idea that Hal’s duties are of utmost importance to him, as he is more concerned about saving his father and people, rather than joking around with Falstaff. ' --> this seems pretty reductive. Does Hal really care about saving his father? You can argue this, but I feel like your discussion thus far hasn't sufficiently built up for a conclusion like that. Yes, he eventually rejects Falstaff and becomes King, but that can't be the crux of all judgements of Hal's character.
- 3rd para, jsut because it's one of my favourite quotes: "I would 'twere bed time, Hal, and all well." Consider this in terms of your discussion. Falstaff is often dismissive, disingenuous, and (debatably) dishonourable, but he does fluctuate too. These moments of rare insight and gravity from him seem to have more weight (no pun intended, ily Falstaff) than much of the aureate rhetoric of the noble patricians. This is getting a bit far away from the prompt now, but just be careful not to overgeneralise the characters. They're more complex than meets the eye, which is fitting for a play about appearances and deception :)
- conclusion needs work, as it's just restating points, and you can do more here.

I'll edit in more and/or general comments later.

swagsxcboi

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Re: Henry IV, Part 1 TR Essay
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 09:14:15 am »
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wow, I really didn't expect a reply from you at 3 in the morning  :o thank you so much!!!

- because this prompt is dealing with general themes and not a character/scene-specific concept, it might pay to have a more general introduction, ie. one that doesn't rely so heavily on evidence. Unpack the thematic concepts instead.
when you say thematic concepts, do you mean what Shakespeare is saying overall about duty and friendship, or something general about a specific character's attitude towards duty and friendship? I found it difficult to say something general about all characters so i'm not too sure how to go about it.

- conclusion needs work, as it's just restating points, and you can do more here.
instead of just restating points, what should I do for my conclusion?
Does it differ from type of topic? Like would a thematic vs character based topic have different conclusions?


thanks again, much appreciated  :)
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24bauer12

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Re: Henry IV, Part 1 TR Essay
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 05:39:29 pm »
+1
Quote
instead of just restating points, what should I do for my conclusion?
Does it differ from type of topic? Like would a thematic vs character based topic have different conclusions?

Quote
Quote from: literally lauren
Good conclusions do more than just restate points, summarise arguments and reword contentions.
It will depend on your text of course; some are easier than others. You might want to make a general comment about audience interpretation, or how meaning changes over time (eg. for Twelve Angry Men - written in the Cold War era, how might the message have changed over time, or are the themes of prejudice eternal...?) Since I was doing Shakespeare I could make the obvious comparison between the Elizabethan/Jacobean audiences and contemporary viewers. Put simply, this is your chance to 'zoom out' and look at a bigger picture, whatever that may be. Perhaps there's something you can say about the text overall, or about the author's ouevre? Here's one of mine on Henry IV Part 1 as a sample: [Prompt: The kingdom of Henry IV is one of shifting power and uncertainty]

“If the tree is known by the fruit as the fruit as the fruit by the tree,” Hal seems to have the potential to be an even more “wond’d at” king than his father. Yet in a world with more roles than players and more players than parts, Shakespeare’s ominous ending foreshadows an uncertain journey for the Prince of Wales as he navigates the perennial power shifts of disillusioned subjects and unscrupulous nobility.

Two to three sentences was usually sufficient for me. So long as you bring it back to the prompt somehow you should be fine. Think of it as an opportunity to consolidate and tie your essay together. Rather than viewing it as three/four separate paragraphs on different ideas with an intro and concl tacked on either end, try to consider your whole essay as this gradual process of more and more arguments and evidence leading to an overwhelming conclusion.

The intro is for capturing an examiner's eye, the conclusion is to make them finally blink and go, wow, this guy deserves 11/10.