The Moralities of Falstaff and Prince Hal in King Henry IV

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Throughout King Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare consistently contrasts the opposing worldviews of Falstaff and Prince Hal. Shakespeare portrays Falstaff as the old, overweight drunk who lives only to enjoy himself in the present. In contrast, Shakespeare shows Hal to be the sometimes irresponsible, nevertheless, intelligent and heroic prince whose entire life and character is about planning and preparing not only himself, but also others for the future. Yet, while Falstaff engages in illegal activity to maintain his own pleasure, regardless of any implications, Hal retains his scruples and manages to regain the respect of his peers. Thus Hal’s more selfless and futuristic oriented worldview is more compelling than the Falstaff’s moralless…show more content…
INSERT CONCLUDING SENTENCE In sharp contrast to Falstaff, Prince Hal considers not only the happenings of the present, but also the possibilities of the future. In addition, he is able to consider the wellbeing of others in addition to his own. After Hal is informed that he must go to war, he tells his friends, “I’ll go to the court in the morning. We must all to the wars, and thy place shall be honorable” (2.4.564-565). Hal uses future tense in saying “thy place shall be honorable”. By using future tense, Hal is insinuating that his friend’s honorable places will, without a doubt occur. Furthermore, the by using future tense in saying “I’ll go to the court in the morning”, Hal makes a connection between his going to the court, and his friends’ honorable places. This connection tells the reader that Hal’s friends will receive their positions only because he is going to the court. Furthermore, Hal tells Falstaff “ I have procured thee…a charge of foot” (3.3.197). The word “procured” implies that Hal had to exert some effort to get Falstaff’s assignment, telling again the reader that despite all that Hal says, he does care for Falstaff and others. Further unlike Falstaff, Hal dedicates a lot of time to thinking about the future. Towards the beginning of the play, Hal has a soliloquy in which he outlines his plans for his life:
“I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humor of your idleness.
When this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt

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