Sunday, November 4, 2012

Henry IV

In Henry IV, each characters' view of reality is somewhat different. Their realities do not differ in that they see the world differently, but in that their goals differ and they see their situations as advantageous when others cannot see how they are advantageous. In many parts of the play, people's perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of others' situations are turned on their heads.

For example, Prince Hal runs with the Pub Crawlers and he seems to truly believe that the hooligans in the pub are the people who he needs to be hanging around. However, King Henry, Hal's father, believes the exact opposite. When talking to Hal about his tendencies to hang around around with the wrong people and how they affect his future, the King says, "The hope and expectation of thy time / Is ruin'd, and the soul of every man / Prophetically doth forethink thy fall" (Shakespeare, 3.2). With this we can definitely see how King Henry has disdain for the situation Hal has put himself in because Henry believes that he is shirking his responsibilities to his title. Henry also believes that Hal will be at a disadvantage when he needs to show himself in the public realm. Henry compares Hal's situation to that of the overthrown former King Richard. However, the reality of Hal's situation ends up being advantageous for Hal. No one believes in Hal, but when he comes to prove himself in battle, he doesn't waver and shows others just how real he can be. He outgrows the reality others have given him and now has a reality that seems to be looking up.

On the other side of the spectrum, however, we have Hotspur. Unlike Hal, Hotspur has a beaming reality to those around him. Hotspur is a driven, organized version of Hal. Because of their age similarities and the fact that they both are in positions of authority, Hal and Hotspur are often compared. King Henry (Hal's Father) even at one point wishes Hotspur was his son instead of Hal. However, in the end, it is Hal who gets the last laugh because while he was being doubted in the days leading up to the battle, Hotspur seems to start falling apart and his reality seems to be one of a power hungry, rude person. When Hal and Hotspur go hand to hand in battle, Hal valiantly kills Hotspur. Hal's situation and reality gives him the honor Hotspur only dreamed of because he is able to run with the highest of high and the lowest of low, and still rise to the occasion.