Henry V

A Portrait of Henry V As The Amalgamation of Hotspur and Falstaff College

Though Henry V can be read and appreciated as a stand alone piece, it is most valuable when considered as part of a tetralogy. The two parts of Henry IV depict the characters and present the initial stages of the conflict in a way that pushes one to reconsider Henry V as a continuation of the previous two plays. The dynamic evolution in the portrayal of Prince Hal can clearly be seen from the study of Henry V. In particular, Henry IV Part 1 sets up two of the main characters, Hotspur and Falstaff, who are only mentioned in Henry V. These two individuals are essential to better understanding how Prince Hal becomes the king that he is and why he makes the decisions that he does. Through his interactions with them and through their deaths, Hal gains their qualities -- boldness and determination from Hotspur and wit and wordplay from Falstaff -- and adds them to his own charisma. The two parts, in association with V, help us see the two-part process by which this happens: the death of Hotspur allows Hal to acquire qualities that will lie in him until Falstaff’s death. That death serves as a catalyst, thereby allowing the acquired qualities to translate into noble actions on the field.

Shakespeare subtly sets up two critical...

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