The courts of Henry IV and his son Prince Harry Essay

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A comparison (up to the end of Act 3) of the courts of Henry IV and his son Prince Harry

Shakespeares Henry IV part 1 deals with a Scottish challenge to the throne of King Henry IV led by Henry Percy (Hotspur) who was the son of the Earl of Northumberland. But it also deals with the differences of the lives at which the King and his son live, and how they differ in the time of need. In this essay I shall be carrying out a comparison of the courts of Henry IV and his son, Price Henry, also named as Hal. When I mention courts, I am describing the area of which a monarch conducts all aspects of their business, but also the inhabitants of it. The outcome I am aiming to produce is to show how the two inhabitants of different courts come together when they are needed by each other. I shall start with a comparison of the settings of the two courts.

The setting of the Kings court is of many great places in which he conducts his business, such as discussions of rebellion and how to keep the country at peace. These are very prestigious and modern (in the set era) rooms and areas which would allow a select few to enter. Surrounded by high quality goods and paintings, these courts would be very solemn. They would be used for their sole purpose only, and any unneeded acts would rarely commence. Examples of this are shown, not only in the BBC Broadcast of the book, but also in the ink drawings in the novel. They show the setting to be extremely tidy but at the same time bland.

These areas have no character, no feeling in them; they are merely for show. In the BBC broadcast of the book, near the beginning there is a scene in which the King is giving a speech in which he addresses his supporters in giving them the news that he shall lead a crusade in Jerusalem (among other things). This setting in which he is in is extremely royal and expensive; this helps me to explain my comparison. But also, during Act 3 in the book, there is some clear ink drawings describing the settings of his courts. These are extremely plain areas, but they have their unique points to them.

But in a complete contrast of this court, is Hals: Inns, dirty apartments filled with commoners and prostitutes- that was the world of Hals. But this was also of feeling, of life, of happiness. Hals courts were rarely dull or uneventful, but full of excitement; although, for this fun and excitement to occur, the circumstances shall be rough and cheap. The main areas to socialise would be in his Royal Apartments, but also the Boars Head, an uninviting tavern in Eastcheap.

They are completely opposite to the layout of the Kings areas. Descriptions would be shabby, cheap ornaments, alcohol everywhere feeding the drunks. The setting is dirty fit for a common man, not a Prince. The BBC broadcast clearly elaborates on my comparison above in the scenes in which the Prince is socialising with his friends. Also, during Act 2 Scene 4 in the book, there is an ink drawing showing the tavern in which the Prince and his comrades are socialising. It shows many drunks sleeping on tables, fighting over drinks, sitting on various items trying to settle down. But this depicts the tavern to be full of low-life people trying to drown their sorrows.

Another comparison I shall make is of the types of speeches between Henry IV and Hal. Iambic Pentameter, more commonly known as Blank Verse, was the verse used in the era of Shakespeare for those more able in society. They were unrhymed lines which were ten syllables long. Here is an example below of how the Kings speech is adapted to this style,

So shaken as we are, so wan with care,

Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,

And breathe short-winded accents of new broils

To be commencd in stronds afar remote:

No more the thirsty entrance of this soil

Shall daub her lips with her own childrens blood;

No more shall trenching war channel her fields,

Nor bruise her flowrets wit the armed hoofs

Of hostile paces.

The King here uses different tones when speaking, first of solemnity with his views on the battle, but then with hope and determination as he encourages his supporters about the tactics of how to lead England from there on. This type of speech can adapt to any tone of voice, but also to change, mid-verse. Notice how the sentences carry on in some areas to the next line, to keep the type of speech in proportion. Anyone who had a high social stature at the time would use Blank Verse, such as a Lord of Lady.

Hal and his court rarely used this type of speech. The only times he would use Blank Verse is during speeches to the public, but also to important figures in his social areas, such as his father or visitors of his (King Henry IVs). The main type of speech Hal was adapted to would be that common of the subjects of the country, such as the working class or poor. I think that the use of this showed the Prince to be not just a monarch to be feared of, but one to appreciate and respect.

The speeches would use language common to the poor and not common to royalty, as in the Kings Courts. For example, as where Hal and his Court would refer to an alcoholic drink as sack, the Kings Court would use a more dignified term. This shows that a type of slang language would be used amongst the Prince and his fellows, but the King would not allow his Countrys speech to be attacked like that. There is one exception where Hal uses the Kings type of speech: this is were he talking about how he will change for the better, and become a true Prince. This is throughout Act 3 Scene 2. An example to show this will be in lines 18-28,

So please your Majesty, I would I could

Quit all offences wit as clear excuse

As well as I am doubtless I can purge

Myself of many I am chargd withal:

Yet such extenuation let me beg

As, in reproof of many tales devisd,

Which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear,

By smiling pickthanks, and base newsmongers,

Health faulter wanderd and irregular,

Find pardon on my true submission.

The inhabitants of a court shall make up a large proportion of its character: they are the ones who decide how it is handled, but also the manner in which they are handled. The main inhabitants of Henrys IV court consist of the Earl of Westmoreland, Sir Walter Blunt, Lord John of Lancaster, and of course King Henry IV. Lord John of Lancaster was the son of the King and a possible rival to the throne if Hal deceased before his father. He was involved in the Kings plans for the country and part of his trustworthy group of advisors. The Lord w as the opposite of his wild brother, and was quick to take on responsibility in the Kings councils. Another interested in the affairs of the land was the Earl of Westmoreland. He was an ally to the King and was loyal and trusted. Sir Walter Blunt was a supporter of the Henry IV. He served as an intermediary between the King and the rebels before the battle of Shrewsbury. Altogether, along with many other small inhabitants to the court, these people were highly respected in their day with many friends, but also many foes.

The inhabitants of Hals court stretched from the barmaid in the Boars Head, to Falstaff, a well known thief and lowlife. Sir John Falstaff was a main companion of Hals. This character was extremely dishonourable, but at the same time easy-going. He would make a joke out of everything, but never a true word be spoken from his mouth. The only person Falstaff would look after is himself, when it came to anyone else he was never interested. After all these characteristics, he has many friends. Poins was a person interested in mockery and the simple side to life. He would be someone always ready for a joke, but also ready for anything else the world may like to throw at him.

Gadshill, a companion more of Falstaffs, was a cheat and liar much like his friend. When a robbery was setup and he and Falstaff were attacked by Hal, his versions of events were same to the lies of Falstaffs. Peto, a fellow member of Hals court was also a thief- he had no respect. He was a partner in the robbery used to trick Falstaff. Another was Bardolph, one of Falstaffs disreputable pals. Falstaff calls him the Knight of the Burning Lamp, because of his red nose, caused by too much drinking. This was the bulk of Henrys inhabitants, but there were many more minor ones. Please note that there were no inhabitants which were of a good social stature, except the Prince.

The courts would be subject to many different activities. Henry IV was regularly anticipating the concept of a rebellion against the empire. This is shown throughout Act 1 Scene 1 as the King is told of a challenge to thrown made by Henry Hotspur. This is some what of a surprise to the Henry as it is his own nephew making the challenge. The King was extremely confident that his own country was running itself that he had made plans to lead an army in a Crusade to Jerusalem, to fight the Turks, who were in possession of the Christian Holy Land. But this was all postponed by the news delivered in Act 1 Scene 1. Altogether, the Kings Court was set on running the country and keeping it from collapsing into the hands of rebels: this meant attending meetings with both allies and rebels in the same room.

Although Hals Court had a different perception of activities- His activities were the same as an average man. His court had their hearts set on destroying the country (up until the great battle in the beginning of scene 4). Most of the scenes in this book concerning the court would be in an inn or in royal apartments, and the inhabitants- drinking. This group of friends would be regularly visiting brothels for the company of a prostitute, especially Falstaff. In Act 3 Scene 3, lines 14-20, it shall show how Falstaff explains his activities,

I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need to be” virtuous enough: swore little; diced not above seven times” a week; went to a bawdy-house not above once in a quarter” of an hour; paid money that I borrowed” three or four times; lived well, and in good compass. And now I live out of all order, out of all compass.

Here, he admits to being a constant gambler and to visiting brothels a significant amount of times. Falstaff is also telling of how he rarely pays back debts owed. After this speech is made, no one makes a comment about his activities, so that goes to suggest that they also lead lives similar. One activity that the whole court was involved in was a double-robbery in Act 2 Scene 1 on Gads Hill. The Prince and Poins had left Falstaff and others to commit the first robbery alone.

After this, Hal and Poins had dressed also to thieve, and they now took on his friends in order to receive the stolen goods. After defeating them, the two-some left the others and returned back down the hill. Hal had planned this so that Falstaff would have to make two very dishonourable lies to him in order to retain his pride: he would need to exaggerate the amount of attackers on him, and also how they fought. This was as he had no significant marks on him to say that he was wounded and could not retaliate. As predicted, Falstaff made these comments later on in the Boars Head. In Act 2 Scene 4, lines 167-173, Falstaff tells of how he fought for hours on end against many attackers,

I am a rogue¦ I never dealt better since I was a man.

This is blatantly a lie as he goes on to say things that would be unbelievable, even for a knight in battle. Finally Falstaff stumbles onto another major lie, which was on lines 223-226, he says how 3 hooded men came at him from behind,

But as the devil would have it, three misbegotten knaves in Kendal green came at my back and let drive at me; for it was so dark, Hal, that thou couldst not see thy hand.

Although, Falstaff made a mistake whilst improvising a speech- he added in the detail of the colour of the cloaks the attackers were wearing, then goes on to say that it was too dark to even see his hand. Now Falstaff must lie repeatedly to make up for the mistake. Overall, Hals Court and their activities are much more exciting in some tenses, but also unfaithful.

Speeches in the two Courts vary in content. The Kings shall have an elegant and prestigious topic of conversation, whereas Hals is the opposite. In the next couple of paragraphs I shall explain this theory; I shall start off with the content of the Kings courts speeches. The main topics of interest shall be of rebellion, war and hot to keep the country afloat. In Act 1 Scene 1, lines 1 to 33, the King is rifling on his alliance and encouraging them to support the country,

So shaken as we are¦ our Council did decree

In forwarding this dear expedience.

Here he talks about how they are on top of all their troubles and shall now move on to larger targets; such as claiming back Jerusalem from the Turks. In Act 1 Scene 3, King Henry confronts the rebels who have been causing him anger. He argues heavily with Hotspur about him not agreeing to surrender captured prisoners.

Throughout this scene there is one main content for the conversation; how to run the country. For example, in lines 1-9, he is apologising for being too harsh to these rebels, and admitting his mistakes in leadership. Although, Hotspur, during lines 28- 68, then retaliates that comment and admits he has captured prisoners, but then gives reasons for his treachery. But after this conversation, the King has gained some respect for this young man. During Act 1 Scene 1, lines 77-94, express the Kings feelings for his son.

Yea, there thou makst me sad and makst me sin

In envy that my Lord Northumberland

Should be the father to so blest a son-

A son who is the theme of honours tongue,

Amongst a grove the very straightest plant,

Who is sweet Fortunes minion and her pride-

Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him

See riot and dishonor stain the brow

Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved

That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged

In cradle clothes our children where they lay,

And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!

These lines above set the stage for the conflict between Prince Hal and Hotspur. The King describes the fame and fortune of young Hotspur by calling him the theme of honours tongue. As a comparison, he states that Prince Harry has been sullied by riot and dishonour. He then refers to an old English folk superstition- fairies who switched young children at birth. Henry wishes that a fairy had switched Harry and Hotspur at birth, so that Hotspur were really his son and Harry the son of Northumberland.

Hals content of speeches is significantly different- they will either be joking towards each other or plotting a new scheme. This Court would never be seen to have a civilised conversation. An example of this shall be shown in Act 1 Scene 2, lines 2-12,

Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack

and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon

benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to

demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know.

What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the

day? Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes

capons and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the

signs of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself

a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no

reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand

the time of the day.

This shows the extent to mockery this Court would go to in order to entertain their selves. But in contrast, there is a speech made by Hal in which he is talking about how he has played everyone for a fool, and is now going to become the true Prince. This is in Act 1 Scene 2, lines 173-195,

I know you all, and will awhile uphold

The unyoked humour of your idleness.

Yet herein will I imitate the sun,

Who doth permit the base contagious clouds

To smother up his beauty from the world,

That when he please again to be himself,

Being wanted, he may be more wondered at

By breaking through the foul and ugly mists

Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.

If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work;

But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,

And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.

So, when this loose behaviour I throw off

And pay the debt I never promis¯¿½d,

By how much better than my word I am,

By so much shall I falsify mens hopes;

And like bright metal on a sullen ground,

My reformation, glittring oer my fault,

Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes

Than that which hath no foil to set it off.

Ill so offend to make offence a skill,

Redeeming time when men think least I will.

Here Hal is revealing his deception about his character; his theory is that people will like him more if he has a sudden change of personality and turns into a noble Prince. It shows young Hal to have an extremely complex mind and that common people are not worthy as his friends.

King Henry IV and his son Hal have a very complicated relationship: they are not alike in many ways, but when it comes to the time which they are seeking salvation by each other, they have many similarities. In Act 1 Scene 1, lines 77-94, the King reveals how he wishes that the young Hotspur and his own son Hal were switched at birth,

Yea, there thou makst me sad and makst me sin¦

And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!

The above speech is explained above when I am carrying out a comparison of the content of speeches. Although, in Act 3 Scene 2, both faces admit to each other that they are in need of help from one-another. The King berates him for his behaviour and the company he keeps. This is shown in lines 10-17,

For the hot vengeance and the rod of heaven¦

And hold their level with thy princely heart?

But soon he is pouring his heart out and pleading for Hal to change his ways and become a real monarch; the proof of this is throughout this scene. Although, in lines 129-159, Hal promises his father that he will be a noble Prince; an honourable Prince; a worthy Prince,

Do not think so, you shall not find it so; ¦

Ere break the smallest parcel of this vow.

I have now made all my comparisons relating to the courts of Henry IV and his son, Prince Harry. I have gained several conclusions throughout this piece of coursework at the end of each section. But as I final conclusion, I shall like to state what I think is occurring with the courts near the end of Act 3: Henrys and Hals courts are different in many senses, although the only occasion they join each others company is when fighting for their country; when they have a purpose.

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