Character Analysis: Falstaff Essay

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Shakespeare presents a collection of conventional heroes in Henry IV Part 1. Hal’s transformation, Hotspur’s bravery, and King Henry’s aggressive reign echo the societal values of the traditional Elizabethan male. These characters are all examples of society’s standards. Sir John Falstaff’s round, animated personality contrasts these flat characters in the play. By creating a man who flagrantly disregards societal norms through unconventional behavior, Shakespeare supports personal value over societal values. In Part 1 of Henry IV, Falstaff is the only character who truly develops. Hal, though apparently transformed from rebellious to courageous, recognizes that he is blanketed by “foul and ugly mists of vapor that seem to strangle him” …show more content…
In comparison, Hal very apparently needs the structure of time. For, with time, Hal believes he will mature into a valiant king. His remarks towards Falstaff in Act 1 Scene 1 regarding Falstaff’s ignorance of time are heavy with insulting undertones. Here Hal reveals how important time is to him, specifically due to the importance of schedules and order in his society. Again, the significance of concrete plans and time is exemplified in Act 1 Scene 3 when Hotspur is planning their war with the English king. The importance of designating a specific time of attack is exemplified: “when time is ripe…I’ll steal to Glendower and Lord Mortimer, where you...and our powers at once…shall happily meet to bear our fortunes in our own strong arms” (1.3). Falstaff removes himself from the idea of structure by continuously ignoring these standards. Falstaff’s infamy is largely due to his time spent at a tavern. As Maurice Morgann describes in his essay “An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff,” the character is “Ridiculous in his figure” (Morgann); fat, loud, and lazy, and is ridiculed by those around him. His friends consistently refer to him with insulting language such as “fat rogue” and “greasy tallow-hatch.” Falstaff, himself, acknowledges his flaws. However, Falstaff’s indulgence and vulgarity can be interpreted as a depiction of his good cheer and feasting. He is unencumbered and lives free of the restraints of accordance. Falstaff’s personality

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