Henry IV Part 1

Falstaff: The Unscrupulous Scoundrel We Know and Love College

Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV is one of the most outrageous and memorable characters in the entire Shakespearean Canon. His charisma that ensnared even Queen Elizabeth. In fact, the character of Falstaff inspired Shakespeare to write another play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, at the request of the Queen. Falstaff later became the subject for many operas, sculptures, films, symphonies, and novels (Pilkington). His persona is unlike any other character Shakespeare created. From the time the audience first meets the defamed knight, it is clear that Falstaff is a rowdy, big-talking drunk with few morals and no discernable sense of honor and it is unclear why so many, including the Queen, became endeared to this blustering troublemaker. In fact, Shakespeare exploited several of Falstaff’s characteristics while still being true to his deplorable nature, which ensured that the audiences of Henry IV would embrace him. Some of Falstaff's memorable traits include his propensity with words, his oblivious penchant for the selfish pleasures of life instead of the virtues, and his helplessness which inspires pity and consequently forces the audience to side with the scoundrel in certain situations. Even with Falstaff's negative...

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