Essay on Honor in Henry IV

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Honour in Henry IV Honor is one of those concepts that is seldom defined. One’s reputation is based on his or her honor, integrity, honesty, and purity. William Shakespeare’s Henry IV is a one of his many plays that deal with the varying ideas of honor, as well as issues of courage, loyalty, and ambition, interposing examples of dishonor, weakness, and the deceitful plots among both the drunkards and noblemen. Shakespeare utilizes suggestive metaphors to create illusions, imagery, and to reinforce the different views of the major issues people were faced with in his time and in ours. His plays often focus on the imagery, either on some obvious important symbol, or some image pattern that recurs throughout the work. Readers are then …show more content…
King Henry IV must also contend with his son, Prince Hal, who’s not the honorable prince he had hoped him to be. He feels it is “an honorable spoil” not to have “a son who is the theme of honor’s tongue,” when he learns of Northumberland’s son Hotspur’s victories, which, should be “a conquest for a prince to boast of” (1.1.74,80, & 76). Pangs of jealousy strike Henry’s heart caused by the differences between his son and Northumberland’s. So much so, he wishes “it could be proved that” someone, or something, “had exchanged in cradle clothes, their sons at birth” (1.1.85-87).

Act one, scene one, stresses the motif of honor in war, in characters, and, most importantly, in offspring. However, while Henry sees “riot and dishonor” in his son, Hal sees a father who has stolen his title by disgracing a king (1.1.84). Shakespeare wouldn’t dream of imposing his personal beliefs of who is honorable or who is dishonorable for the simple fact that it is obvious honor is perceived differently by each individual, as in each character’s perception and the imagery that surrounds that character. As Hal tries to discover the true meaning of honor, readers take the journey along with him. Hal realizes that honor is ambiguous when utilized to plead for emotional retort, yet leaves no margin for error when used as personal description,
“Yet herein will I imitate the…