Henry IV Part 1

Honour, Democracy, and Appearance: Hal’s Journey to Kingship in Henry IV Part I College

The most intriguing character of Henry IV Part I is Prince Harry. This troubled young man struggles with his father’s expectations, his destiny to assume the throne, and his wild friends. Initially he seems little more than a rebellious youth, but he ends the play in a very different manner. This essay examines connection to commonmen, appearance, and honour in battle as attributes that lead Henry to become a competent and trustworthy monarch.

One of the most important lessons Hal learns in the play relates to his connection to common men. His time with his friends in Eastcheap is particularly advantageous in teaching him this skill. Many princes who are brought up in royalty have lived a pampered life, protected from reality. This would make for out of touch, oblivious monarchs. Hal is an exception to this since he spends his youth in taverns with the commoners, learning their priorities and their struggles. This comes primarily from Falstaff, with whose instruction he is becoming acquainted with the underground scene in London, and Hal takes this knowledge very seriously. This is an advantage that many leaders, from ancient monarchs to modern Prime Ministers, have been deprived of. When Prince Harry becomes king, he can...

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