Hotspur Metaphors

967 WordsOct 17, 20174 Pages
In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Hotspur, the most talented young warrior in England, leads a rebellion against King Henry IV while, Hal, the king’s seemingly lazy, indifferent son and heir to the throne, fights against Hotspur for the throne. Hal and Hotspur have a similar ideology as seen in their common metaphors; however, Hal speaks with various extended metaphors, biblical allusions, and strategically places his use of verse and prose while Hotspur speaks with simpler metaphors, war imagery, and mainly speaks in verse. Shakespeare emphasizes these speech patterns to demonstrate Hal’s ability to manipulate the world to his benefit and Hotspur’s extremely volatile sensibility, and thus, proves Hal to be more qualified to rule than Hotspur. Hal and Hotspur share some of the same metaphors, most notably, their common use of debt as a metaphor for honor and responsibility, which indicates how they both see these values in a mercantile fashion. In Hal’s first soliloquy, he says he will “pay the debt I never promised” (I.2.77), a reference to his plan to act like a drunken thief, so when he becomes king, he will seem like a greater leader. Hal saying he will pay the “debt”, or him being an effective king, displays how he thinks that he can easily exchange his immature behavior for honor and that being a good king can instantly buy the favor of the people. Also, the word debt implies that Hal believes that the king has an important obligation to be honorable to the kingdom. Hotspur also uses the metaphor, saying King Henry IV “Studies day and night / To answer all the debt he owes to you / Even with the bloody payment of your deaths” (I.3.184-186). Because Hotspur’s father and uncle helped King Henry take the throne, Hotspur believes that the king has a responsibility to treat them well, which he does not fulfill. This illustrates how Hotspur also views honor as a transaction: when given, it must be repaid. Both Hal and Hotspur believe that honor can be exchanged like goods, and they view honor, like debt, as a responsibility that must be maintained, indicating they understand the importance of honor in society. Hal and Hotspur share a similar ideology, but Hal’s elevated language portrays him as more
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