Henry IV

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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Shakespeare's Henry IV presents his innovative political order through the progressive growth of Prince Hal, who ultimately becomes the Ideal King. By looking at the four main characters of the play, and identifying their role, on can determine the overall meaning of the play. King Henry IV, Prince Hal, Falstaff, and Hotspur represent a specific aspect in Shakespeare's new political order. By examining these four characters and their interactions with one another, the overall meaning of the play will be revealed. It can be said that now, that the theme of rebellion seeps through the play by all four main characters being discussed. Taking a closer look at these characters and how they interact will reveal Shakespeare's depiction of the ideals for the emerging new world.

In terms of rebellion, the play opens up confessing of the sins of King Henry. He reveals his exhaustion of the previous months but still wants to go fight the wars of Christendom to repent for his sins.

He states, "So shaken we are, so wan with care"(Act I, Scene I). Here he explains not only his feelings for his involvement in this war but also the overall feelings of his country, which is shaken because their county just lost a battle by Mortimer, and several other threats. But the good news is from Sir Walter Blunt who tells the King and Westmoreland of the victory of the valiant Hotspur. It is here where the introduction and comparisons are drawn on Hotspur and Prince Hal. The King states, "Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him/ See riot and dishonor stain the brow/ Of my young Harry."(Act I, Scene I). Here, the comparison of Hotspur and Prince Hal is made on the basis of honor. The fact that Hotspur is...