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Honour Is Mere Scutcheon

  • Date Submitted: 05/27/2013 12:27 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 68.9 
  • Words: 368
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"O gentlemen the time of life is short! To spend that shortness basely were too long if life did ride upon a dial's point, still ending at the arrival of an hour. An if we live, we live to tread on kings; if die, brave death when princes die with us! Now, for our consciences, the arms are fair when the intent of bearing them is just." [5.2.59-64]

As far as Hotspur is concerned, life is nothing without honor.

In the play, both Falstaff and Hotspur think they are correct in their conception of the notion of honor. Both of them also make valid points as far as whether or not the pursuit of honor is meaningful or meaningless.

However, Falstaff's ideas about honor seem to be more grounded in reality and experience than Hotspur's. Hotspur's ideas with regards to the pursuit of honor appear to be more based on vanity and the recklessness of youth, evidenced in the manner of which he is willing to throw his life and the lives of his soldiers away for a mere word.

In retrospect, through comparing Hotspur's and Falstaff's conceptions of honor, Falstaff seems to be better grounded and a clearer thinker towards the idea of honor.

Falstaff's and Hotspur's ideas being so different in the realm of the pursuit of honor makes them a study in contrasts. One, Falstaff, believes that the pursuit of honor and glory is a waste of time and not worth the effort put into it. The other, Hotspur, believes the exact opposite, that the pursuit of honor is one of the most worthwhile things a man can do with his life.

Hotspur, through his actions, proves himself to be more reckless than Falstaff, part of the reason being that he pursues honor at all costs while Falstaff would rather pursue enjoying life to the fullest extent possible.

In the end, Falstaff's idea of honor suggests that life is better lived when it is truly lived unlike Hotspur who says that life is nothing without the quest for honor, which, in this case, can be considered the quest for death since he is...


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