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Contrast Falstaff's View of Honour with the Views of King Henry, Prince Hal and Hotspur

  • Date Submitted: 03/21/2010 09:35 AM
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Contrast Falstaff’s view of honour with the views of King Henry, Prince Hal and Hotspur
The views of honour throughout the play are quite different in terms of different characters. Hotspur has an apparent obsession with honour and want to be honoured by those around him. The king obviously has admiration for Hotspur and therefore honours him because he would prefer that he was his son rather than Prince Hal. The king is proud of Hotspurs achievements and that fact that he has military glory. However, while he is praising Hotspur, the king is comparing his achievements with those of his son, Prince Harry. The king thinks Harry’s behaviour is dishonourable because he drinks and is promiscuous with his friends, Sir John Falstaff and Ned Poins. Both of these them are highwaymen and robbers and therefore the king is ashamed of Harry and wishes that Hotspur was his son. In contrast to Hotspur’s obsession with honour, Falstaff has an apparent lack of honour because he seems to just let it pass him by and doesn’t seem to care, he totally rejects the standard actions of an honourable man, he’s a thief and he’s not ashamed to admit it.
“Why, Hal, tis my vocation Hal, tis no sin
For a man to labour in his vocation (act 5, scene 2, lines 107-108)
Falstaff has difficulty understanding how others could place honour before themselves. His lack of honour is shown repeatedly at the battle of Shrewsbury, but what clearly proves Falstaff is the antithesis of an honourable man is the fact that he was going to take credit for killing Hotspur. Although he clearly isn’t honourable, he goes to great lengths to look honourable in the eyes of others. He doesn’t want to give up any of his pleasures of drinking, thieving and promiscuity, or obtain any bodily harm, but he does not want to come across as a coward either.
Hal: What, a coward, Sir John Paunch?
Falstaff: Indeed, I am not John of Gaunt, your
Grandfather, but yet no coward, Hal (Act 2, scene 2, lines 65-67)


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