Henry IV Part 1

The Transformation of Hal

Arguably, Hal, Prince of Wales, underwent a gargantuan transformation throughout the course of 1 Henry IV. As an audience we are thrust into the middle of conflict concerning the prince. At the onset of the play, the Son of the King is portrayed as an immature wild-man, drinking and whoring his life away. The audience sees a man that is "truant to chivalry" (5.1. 95). However, it is more likely that Hal was ready for kingship long before the beginning of this story, and is simply waiting for his opportunity to right all the wrongs of his father's reign with a perfectly timed return to glory and chivalry. The usurpation of the throne from Richard II did not leave much room for his father's success, therefore Hal realizes he must create a way to win over the hearts and minds of the English people and create peace under one ruler. In his soliloquy, Hal states:

So when this loose behavior I throw off

And pay the debt I never promised,

By how much better than my word I am,

By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;

And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,

My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,

Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes

Than that which hath no foil to set it off. (1.2.215-222)

Clearly, Hal has...

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