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Analysis Of The Central Themes From Shakespeare 's Henry Iv

Decent Essays
"What is honor?" That question is one of the central themes from Shakespeare 's Henry IV. Throughout the play Shakespeare provides many different views of honor, but never directly states what honor is. Which makes sense because honor is a rather abstract concept that seems to vary depending on who states their opinion. There are some universal ideas of honorable deeds but the word itself is rarely defined by individuals. Two of the characters within the play have very different ideas of honor and vary greatly in their desire for it. They are Hotspur and Falstaff, Hotspur appears to have a very clear idea of what honor is and he pursues honor with great fervor. However, Falstaff questions the very existence of honor and has little to no desire for it. The ideas of Falstaff and Hotspur about honor are vastly different.

Falstaff and Hotspur differ significantly in their idea of honor. Hotspur believes honor is all about glory and being the center of attention. While Falstaff is only certain that the dead have honor but is unsure about what it is as described by this excerpt of his soliloquy, "No. What is honour?". Hotspur believes that honor is derived from epic or heroic deeds, these deeds tends to be very physical in nature such as the honor gained from battle. Bravery and the acts associated with it is an additional font from which honor can flow freely. This is described by the line, "O the blood more stirs To rouse a lion than to start a hare." It 's clearly much more
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