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King Henry Iv Part 1 Essay

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Passage Analysis - Act 5 Scene 1, lines 115-138.

Shakespeare’s ‘King Henry IV Part I’ centres on a core theme of the conflict between order and disorder. Such conflict is brought to light by the use of many vehicles, including Hal’s inner conflict, the country’s political and social conflict, the conflict between the court world and the tavern world, and the conflicting moral values of characters from each of these worlds. This juxtaposition of certain values exists on many levels, and so is both a strikingly present and an underlying theme throughout the play. Through characterization Shakespeare explores moral conflict, and passage three is a prime example of Falstaff’s enduring moral disorder. By this stage in the play Hal has
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Falstaff’s soliloquy questioning the value of honour is an ironic contrast with how Hotspur and Hal regard honour. By now the contrast between their highly ordered morality and Falstaff’s own moral disorder is obvious. Falstaff’s inclusion at this point, when Hal has left his side and moved on, is necessary to point out the differing morality between the two, which was once so similar. Falstaff is of paramount importance to the sub-plot dealing with Hal’s decision between continuing his carefree lifestyle or maturing into the role he is destined to play as a respected prince and later king. This soliloquy continues the theme of another of Falstaff’s in Act 4 Scene 2, in which he is equally undisturbed by his amorality, and shows that his highest concern is for his own well being.

Falstaff begins by remarking to himself how absolutely unnecessary it would be to go to one’s death before their time. He uses the metaphor of owing money, making a comparison between paying bills and death. It is characteristic of a member of the materialistic tavern world to draw a metaphor with such a concrete, solid and no-nonsense thing as finance. He simply cannot understand why one would be willing to pay such a debt before it is owed – he himself is ‘loath to pay’ such a thing as his life in what he sees as a worthless and empty cause. He personifies death in his metaphors, saying he will not surrender to ‘him’ until he must, and will wait until
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