Prince Hal

“I know you all, and will awhile uphold the unyoked humor of your idleness, yet herein will I imitate the sun, who doth permit the base contagious clouds to smother up his beauty from the world; that when he please he again to be himself, being wanted he may be more wondered at.” Shakespeare is illustrating the idea that a great thing is more appreciated after it has been preceded by something ordinary and common. “Nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.” Prince Hal plans on abandoning his disorderly comrades, and he does just that, becoming the King that leads the English to victory in Agincourt. It’s more relishing to succeed when people have already written you off. He says that his “reformation will falsify men’s hopes.” As a Prince he was rowdy and engaged in petty criminality; engendering others’ spite of him. However after coronated, he becomes obsessedly concerned with righteousness, exacting no mercy on his former comrade Bardloph for a robbing from a church; thereby sentencing him to death. The King shows how his ethics have been metamorphosed from darkness to light. Henry shows genuine concern over whether he has the right to lay claim to the disputed territory in the Salique Land which he is given the nonpareil of linear (but not lacking in prolixity) explanation by one of the clergymen. When he is reassured the land in France is rightfully England’s, he never backs down. He is the English paragon of bravery as well as chivalry. We know from history (and the play) he negotiated a peace treaty by marrying the daughter of France, the country of his former sworn enemy. Unfortunately, after his spectacular victory at Agincourt, his Kingdom shortly crumbled at the hands of his son and successor; Henry the Sixth.

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