Critical Analysis of the part of Prince Hal in the play
The presentation of Prince Hal in the play Henry IV arouses a considerable controversy. Prince Hal has a complex personality. It is quite difficult to understand whether he is simply an immature man, who experiences his spiritual growth and development in the course of the play, or whether he is a commanding character, who acts in a well-thought and grounded manner. His opening monolog serves as the manifestation of the decision to alter the loose behavior (Henry IV, 1, 2). Moreover, it highlights the characters virtuosity. On the other hand, his speech has also another perspective which shows that Hal is probably a manipulator who uses Falstaff in order to achieve his political objectives. In fact, the image of his character in the play raises doubts whether Hal is a virtuous man from the very beginning or he experiences the process of maturity. Hal might be both a decent man who controls his actions and a human being who has a great number of inner conflicts. Before accepting his true nature, it is vital to understand what drives Prince Hal in order to be able to realize whether he has been already mature or he has become and whether his character is a model of Christian monarch or just an individual who resembles the one.
The behavior of Prince Hal confirms the fact that he is an honest individual from the very beginning of the play. In order to understand the essence of his personality, the readers have to read thoroughly the first part of the play, where Falstaff introduces an idea of thievery. Hal responds, Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief (Shakespeare, 76, l. 49). His reaction depicts that he will not become the debauched king. He is not evil or criminal by his nature, as he refuses to participate in the illegal affairs. In the second part, Shakespeare invites Falstaff in order to prove the audience that Hal is not the lawless king. His judgments are full of wise sense, Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the streets and no man regards it (Shakespeare 77, l. 70). He is intensely observant man who is not afraid of telling the truth straightforwardly. He shows that he is determined while approaching Falstaff:
These lies are like their father that begets them, gross as a mountain, open, palpable. Why, thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch. (Shakespeare 118, l. 190).
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The monologs play the significant role in this play because they show the inner struggle of the hero. Obviously, his words convey that he understands the true nature of people who surround him. He does not hide that he can leave then when he should serve his country and community. It makes the audience aware of true inner qualities which Hal possesses. His monolog explains that Hal will not actually change in future. Alternatively, he will simply demonstrate his true nature. With the development of the play, Shakespeare starts applying further devices, which assure the reader that primary impression of Hal is true. While answering the question whether Hal is mature from the very beginning or whether he simply changes due to the circumstances, it should be noted that he remains sincere from the beginning until the end. While articulating his values and principles to Falstaff, he is not portrayed as a youngster, who might develop during the course of maturity, but as a noble young man. Despite the fact that reader initially perceives him as a thief, he is a monarch by nature as he personally states Who, I rob? I a thief? Not I, by my faith (Shakespeare 79, l. 113). Unfortunately, he cannot always stand up to public scrutiny, even though Shakespeare presents his character as a multi-sided individual, who is rational, flexible, logical, and determined.
The depiction of this character in the play also confirms that Prince Hal is a model prince and true Christian. His speeches, as well as the representation of his personality, confirm that he is better than people think. Moreover, Shakespeare constantly alludes that this individual possesses the inner traits which will assist him to become the good monarch in future. His actions and decisions simply confirm that this character is an ideal representation of aristocracy: he is a well-governed person. Furthermore, he confronts evil proposals which he hears from Falstaff. It proves that Prince Hal has the inner stamina and power to maintain the necessary order in the state. Hals behavior is not exemplary, but he should show his people genuine power and ability to rule the country on his own.
Shakespeare masterfully created the atmosphere of intrigue depicting the personality of Prince Hal. Firstly, the character seems to be a inappropriate person for the position of the king because he appears to be too young. However, close analysis and consideration of the speeches and actions confirm that he is a decent candidate to become a king. He possesses the necessary traits which make him able to occupy the most prominent role in the country. In the course of reading, the audience understands the fact that the hero was actually born in order to become a king because he is reasonable and responsible. He has required wisdom, expertise, and proficiency for it. His criminal appearance created by Shakespeare helps the audience to grasp his true nature and to understand that this individual has the important qualities to become a ruler.