Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Henry Explications - Part C

The following is one in a series of mini-articles resulted from an exercise I had my St. Paul Academy 2011 Shakespeare students complete. The articles focus on selected speeches spanning Shakespeare’s Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V.

Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes capons and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the signs of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
(1 Henry IV 1.2.2-13)

During Hal's descriptive insult to Falstaff, the audience learns more about the prince than the pub-crawler. Hal scolds his friend Falstaff for his lethargic and irresponsible behavior, a speech he is motivated to deliver due to his irritation with his companion. Deeper within the relationship, though, one may see that his irritation might not just be with Falstaff, but also with himself. Hal has been ignoring his princely duties and spending time in the dirty parts of London with Falstaff, actions of drunkenness and lack of accountability he may not believe in.

Further, Hal's insults represent the strain on his friendship with Falstaff. He knows that if Falstaff does not adapt to the man Hal truly is, a prince with responsibility, he can no longer be Hal's companion. Hal's inner mental struggle foreshadows his upcoming declaration of maturity and reform to his father. By speaking out against Falstaff's immature and unruly behavior, he is criticizing his own indolence and implying that he does believe in his royal duties and does want to embrace them.

Malika Dale (SPA '12)

No comments: