Henry IV, Part One

  • Elliot Krieger

Abstract

Henry IV, Part One, like the comedies with which I have grouped it in this study, contains two clearly demarcated worlds, which we can follow tradition and call the worlds of the tavern and of the court. In this particular play, however, the process I have been consistently trying to identify and explain, the process by which the second world functions for the protagonist as part of a strategy for living with maintained or increased stature in the primary world, emerges into the open. Despite the enormous critical disagreements as to precisely what Hal does in the play, as to precisely what benefit he derives from his habitation in Eastcheap, critics do agree that Hal uses the tavern to work his advantage. Hal says so himself: in his famous soliloquy, about which more later, he declares that the tavern world only seems a world of holiday leisure, that in fact the tavern constitutes for the Prince himself a world of “everyday” work, the work of fabricating a public image that will consolidate his eventual political control of the kingdom. In short, in 1 Henry IV we must perceive, because the protagonist himself perceives, that the distinction between first and second world dissolves when taken beyond a certain point; in the second world of Eastcheap, as in Arden, Belmont, and elsewhere, the protagonists do not enter and discover an autonomous world of play, ritual, and timelessness, but they assert in a new location their own freedom from work, law, and time—their autonomy—in order to secure their stature in the abandoned primary world.

Keywords

Dust Amid Assure Stratification Turkey 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    R. Battenhouse, “Falstaff as Parodist and Perhaps Holy Fool”, PMLA, 90 (1975)32–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. D. Faber, “Falstaff Behind the Arras”, American Imago, 27 (1970) 197–225.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    C. L. Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy (1959; rpt. Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1963), argues that “the holiday-everyday antithesis is [Hal’s] resource for control” (p. 196) and “the misrule works, through the whole dramatic rhythm, to consolidate rule”, (p. 205).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    S. P. Zitner, “Anon, Anon: or, a Mirror for a Magistrate”, Shakespeare Quarterly, 59 (1968) 63–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 8.
    T. D. Bowman, “Two Addenda to Hotspur’s Tragic Behavior”, Journal of General Education 16 (1964) 68— 71Google Scholar
  6. Judith C. Levinson, “Tis a Woman’s Fault’ ”, ELN, II(1973) 38–40, discuss Hotspur’s vulgar behaviour during the conference with Glendower.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    More critics have argued that Hotspur embodies feudalism. See D. Traversi, Shakespeare from “Richard II” to “Henry IV”, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1957) p. 89;Google Scholar
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  9. C. Barber, “Prince Hal, Henry V, and the Tudor Monarchy”, in D. W. Jefferson (ed.) The Morality of Art, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969) p. 68;Google Scholar
  10. F. Bowers, “Theme and Structure in King Henry IV, Part 1” in The Drama of the Renaissance E. M. Blistein (ed.) (Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Press, 1970) pp. 67— 68. For the opposing view, that Hotspur represents the “New Man”, see J. F. Danby, Shakespeare’s Doctrine of Nature (London: Faber and Faber, 1949) p. 88Google Scholar
  11. A. B. Kernan, “The Henriad: Shakespeare’s Major History Plays,” in Kernan (ed.), Modern Shakespearean Criticism, (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1970): Honour, as Hotspur understands it, is… the Renaissance thirst for individual fame, for immortality of reputation. (p. 258)Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    J. W. Allen, A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century (1928; rpt. London: Methuen, 1961) pp. 268–270.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    David Scott Kastan, “The Shape of Time: Form and Value in the Shakespearean History Play”, Comparative Drama, 7 (1973) 259–77.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elliot Krieger 1979

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  • Elliot Krieger

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