Henry IV Part 1
Elusive Happy Medium
Quoted centuries before Shakespeare's birth, the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus believed that "in everything the middle course is best; all things in excess bring trouble to men." Often times, society focuses its sights on the attainment of concrete and comparable perfection: being the most outgoing, the most intelligent, the most generous, and the wealthiest. Coupled with this desire for excellence comes a fear or disdain for mediocrity: being the least social, least clever, least charitable, and least rich. Rarely does humanity strive for a balance. Shakespeare illustrates that a healthy moral life relies upon the balance of an individual's conflicting desires by revealing the downfall of characters that act out of accordance with this principle-by those individuals that live their lives from one extreme to another. More strikingly however, Shakespeare reveals negative, and occasionally crippling, outcomes caused by entertaining these extremes through the range of disposition of a single character in each play. Evident in the historical plays, Prince Hal's humor ranges from the excessively lackadaisical rogue in Henry IV Part One to the valiant though conceited war-hero-crowned-king in Henry IV...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 785 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5426 literature essays, 1620 sample college application essays, 212 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in