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Free Henry IV Essays: The Reign of a Tyrant

Henry IV: The Reign of a Tyrant

Although the blame for the fall of Richard II and the rise of Henry IV can be shared by them both, Henry IV having established the precedence of usurpation finds England wracked with civil strife after only one year on the throne. Henry IV discovers the impossible situation of a monarch who in making any choice or decision must face the opposition of those who disagree with him and support the other side of the issue.

Henry IV has desired to lead a Crusade perhaps as penance for the death of Richard. However, civil problems prevent his actions at every turn. The Percys with young Hotspur’s recent victory against the Scots find themselves with many nobles among the prisoners. They refuse to surrender these prisoners to Henry IV but elect to use them for their own purposes. Amongst themselves the Percys reveal their desire to be free of Henry and their sorrow that they ever turned from Richard. One of their relatives should be king instead of Henry since Richard II had named Mortimer as his heir. All their discontent, ambition to have a king in their family, and doubts about Henry IV’s right to be king combine to bring them to a point of uniting the various centers of rebellion against Henry IV into one united effort to usurp the throne and restore it to Mortimer, Richard’s heir.

Perhaps even more distressing for Henry IV is the behavior of Prince Hal. Henry desires a son who will mirror all his strengths. Instead he finds in Hal a mirror of his weaknesses. Hal is consorting with thieves learning to steal even as his father stole a crown. Just as his father courted the affections of the common people before he became king, Hal spends his time with common people and the low pursuits of drinking, whoring, and stealing.

Free Henry IV Essays: Falstaff and King Henry

Henry IV – Falstaff and King Henry

Throughout the play Henry IV : Part I,there are many similarities between characters. Two that seem particularly alike are Falstaff and King Henry. Their common traits are demonstrated by Shakespeare in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. While Falstaff seems to be able to accept himself for what he is, the King appears to be tied up in his image as a great ruler, and thus will never admit to being anything less than great.

The characters of Falstaff and the King at first seem to be diametrically opposed opposites in terms of personality, yet they share many common traits. Falstaff is a thief; he admits to being a robber of purses, and, in fact, is pursued by the Sheriff at one point. The king is also a thief; instead of robbing purses from travellers, he stole an entire empire from Richard II, whom he also had murdered. In their ways of dealing with people, especially under uncomfortable circumstances, the two also behave in like ways. It is well known that Falstaff often works his way out of unpleasant situations using only his wit. The King is continuously modifying his behavior to suit the occasion, such as when he is dealing with Hotspur and the opposing Vassals and when he deals with Hal at the royal court. Both Falstaff and the King live,to a great extent, by the sharpness of their minds: Falstaff as a criminal, and the King as a politician. Another similar facet of these two characters is their view of bravery. Both the King and Falstaff subscribe to the theory that it is better to avoid danger and thus avoid the possibility of harm than to takerisks. Falstaff does this on several occasions,such as when he played dead during the battle to avoid injury. At this same battle, the King employed similar tactics, when he had many of his men disguised to look like him and thus him hard to find. It is in these ways that Falstaff and the King are alike; it would appear that their only real differences are in how they see themselves. A politician and a thief can be said to have many things in common.

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