Henry IV Part 1

Individual and Collective interest in Politics 12th Grade

In Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, the people in the places of leadership manipulate the ordinary citizens for their own gain. In the wartime environment, basic common sense is sacrificed for the benefit and personal gain of people in power. Major Cathcart continually chases his desperate yet futile end goal of promotion, to the cost of the men in his squadron, ordinary civilians and even the progression of the war effort. Heller provides a cynical portrayal of war, one where the ultimate arbitrary nature of leadership positions is exploited, becoming the ultimate goal of the powerful instead of the good of soldiers and civilians. In Shakespeare’s play Henry IV part 1, the King is portrayed as a Machiavellian leader, while the prince’s connection with the people show a more empathetic and inclusive style of leadership, although it is revealed to be part of a ploy to manipulate others in order to become a better leader. Even Prince Hal, it seems, is unable to rule innocently, and in this portrayal, Shakespeare challenges the idea of the divine right of leadership. it establishes the dramatic irony of Harry’s character, known to no one but the audience and the prince himself. It also exposes the complexities and ambiguities of Harry...

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