Henry IV Part 1

Speaking Truth to Power: The Nature of Discourse Between Falstaff and Prince Hal College

It is good to be the king, they say. What is perhaps not so good is being close enough to the king that you are presented with the opportunity to speak the truth when you clearly see somebody needs and nobody will. Kings, of course, lied under the delusion that they were anointed by God to take their positions of power and with that anointment came a certain sense of infallibility. Even those kings who did not buy into that concept themselves were in no rush to disabuse the notion among their subjects. Presidents and prime ministers may (or may not) see themselves as invested with power by the grace of god, but perhaps the illusion of infallibility is only heightened as a result of being placed into through the will of masses far more tangibly apprehended than any supreme being. History is full of moments where one close enough to the king to see the truth and speak it held back for fear of retribution for questioning the infallibility just as it is also full of moments where truth was put ahead of fear of retribution. Those in the latter who managed to survived the perilousness of speaking truth to power very likely did so owing at least some allegiance to Falstaff in William Shakespeare’s Henry, IV Parts I and II for the fat...

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