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The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV

The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV

None of Shakespeare’s plays are read more than the first and second parts of Henry IV. Particularly in Henry IV Part I, Shakespeare writes chronologically historical and interesting to follow events. The reader follows the chain of events with devotion and content eager to find out what happens next. Even though the hero of the play is Prince Henry, or Hal as we know him, the reader may find themselves more focused on Falstaff, one of the other major characters that Shakespeare created for comical relief. He was a witty, self-conscious, self-centered companion of the Prince. King Henry even criticized his eldest son for keeping company with such a low man. Even though Hal is the hero of the play both in both the tragic and the comic part, Falstaff is a main character to focus on in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I.

The Prince is a character of many qualities both good and bad. He is a man of great abilities with violent passions as Samuel Johnson had noted in his The Plays of William Shakespeare. Johnson also stated that Hal’s actions are wrong and even partially wicked and I would have to agree with him on that.( Johnson 234 ) To prove my point and to justify Johnson’s I would have to refer to the scene after the Boar’s Head Tavern. The crew decides to play a game of robbers and Hal along with a companion in turn decide to rob Falstaff himself for the fun. They do so and therefore leave the man of his dignity. However, it can be argued that Falstaff set himself up for such a cruel joke, he even boasted about how he fought off the masked robbers who, as he found out later, were no other than the Prince himself along with a companion. Where, as the reader knows, he…

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…eader will enjoy is Falstaff. He is a self-centered man concerned with his own desires with little care or regard for others. Many critics agree that he was put in the play for comical relief and he serves thispurpose nicely. Finally, it can be said that Falstaff highlights the play and gives the viewer the pleasure of following a character of such personality and wit.


Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. H.C. Robinson’s Memoranda Henry IV, Signet Classic, pp. 236-237.

Goldman, Michael. Shakespeare and the Energies of Drama Henry IV, Signet Classic, pp. 260-261.

Johnson, Samuel. The Plays of William Shakespeare Henry IV, Signet Classic, pp.234- 235.

Kahn, Coppelia. Man’s Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare Henry IV, Signet Classic, pp.262-266.

Wilson, John Dover. The Fortunes of Falstaff Henry IV, Signet Classic, pp.238-243.

The Cunning and Deceitful Women of Homer’s Odyssey

The Cunning and Deceitful Women of Homer’s Odyssey

One of the most famous works from the early Greek era is Homer’s Odyssey. It details the journey home of a war hero, Odysseus. His homecoming entails many adventures, each presented as a separate episode that he must overcome. Though the varied episodes differ in terms of characters and settings, most are based on similar patterns of plot and theme. The themes that are most emphasized are forgetfulness, a willingness to risk pain for pleasure, and female temptation.

When comparing the Sirens episode with much of Odysseus’ other adventures, one can observe an emergence and repetition of these themes. The most obvious comparison that can be drawn between the Sirens episode and most other adventures is the theme of forgetfulness. The same idea is repeated in Odysseus’ adventures with Calypso, Circe, and most importantly the Lotus-eaters. The Sirens are all knowing, and draw men in with their songs about all that has happened in the world, but all those who stop to listen can never leave. Fortunately, the Sirens are unable to draw Odysseus in because he has been forewarned by Circe and knows how to resist. “but melt wax of honey and with it stop your companions’ ears, so none can listen.” (12.47-48) Once he hears their song, he forgets about his homeland and wants to be set free so that he can listen to their song. “fastened me with even more lashings and squeezed me tighter.” (12.196) Without Circe’s warning, he would have been drawn into the song and perished. The food of the Lotus-eaters, like the song of the Sirens, causes those who eat it to forget everything they know. Those who ate the fruit had to be bound to the ship, like Odysseus must be tied to the mast in order to…

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…entwined within them the theme most prevalent in the sirens, that of forgetfulness. From Lotus-eaters to Calypso, each has within it the idea of memory loss. Even so, Odysseus manages to overcome these obstacles, sometimes with help, and stay focused on his homecoming. Yet much of the episodes are purely his fault, for if he had not tried to glean as much pleasure from life and taken so many risks, then they would not have occurred. These are episodes best represented by Polyphemos the Cyclops.

The final theme that ties in the Siren episode with that of all others is the deceptive nature of women. Each woman in the work uses craft and trickery to get her way. The Sirens episode has many comparisons to episodes preceding and following it, and contains within it the most prevalent themes of the play, changing only the setting and character descriptions.

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