Analysis Of Henry Iv Essay Research Paper

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Analysis Of Henry Iv Essay, Research Paper A Man of the Moon or Not at All? In Act I, Scene II of William Shakespeare s Henry IV, Part I, Prince Henry of Wales, a.k.a. Hal, delivers a monologue that has profound effects on both the perception of his character, and on the entire plot of the play. Prior to his monologue in scene II, the Prince plots mischief with his mutinous friends, Falstaff and Poins. We think the Prince to be somewhat easy to read. He seems to be merely a rebellious young heir to the throne who spends all his time with highwaymen, robbers and whores on the bad side of London, all to the disdain of his father, the King. This is not to say he is a flat character; In fact, he is extremely witty and brilliant with language. But, as usual, Shakespeare

demonstrates that all is not as simple as it seems. When the Prince s friends have gone, the mood and tone of the scene immediately change from mischievous sarcasm to dark and insidious treachery. I know you all, and will a while uphold The unyoked humour of your idleness: The Prince is saying that for a while, he will maintain an air of acquiescence to the shady activities of his friends. Suddenly, we realize we have been deceived in some way, but we know not to what degree. It s as if the sound of the door closing behind Poins triggers a switch inside the Prince. We now know there is much more to this seemingly waggish and rebellious young rogue, and one can easily imagine his devious grin slowly revealing itself upon his face as his speech moves forward. Yet, herein will I

imitate the sun, Who doth permit the base contagious clouds To smother up his beauty from the world, That, when he please again to be himself, Being wanted, he may be more wonder d at, By breaking through the foul and ugly mists Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. Again, we are confronted by yet another surprise; whereas the meter of the first two lines of the monologue is iambic pentameter, characterized by a rather musing sinisterity, the third line Yet, herein will I imitate the sun, is injected with a troche followed by dactylic pentameter. This signals another change in tone. Even though the piece goes back to iambic pentameter in the fourth line, the result is an exceptional increase in forcefulness. Here, the Prince is comparing himself to the sun, and his

disreputable associates to the clouds. With this first of several metaphorical comparisons, he is revealing his master plan to make his father and the people of England believe without question he is hopelessly sinful, so that when he reforms himself, the new Prince will stand in marked contrast to the old Prince. The language in this passage is seething, using such words as contagious, smother, foul and ugly, and the final phrase, vapours that did seem to strangle him. This paints a very nasty picture of the company he keeps. These are not merely bad influences to which he is referring; they are straightjackets on the glory he has yet to reveal. Now we are left wondering, why? Why would the Prince resort to such extreme measures to win the admiration of his people? Our answer

comes in the very nature of the lines that follow comparison. If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work; But when they seldom come they wish d for come, And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. The Prince explains that if every day were vacation, it would be as boring and contemptuous as work, but when vacation days come few and far between, they are special and set apart from the rest of the year, and nothing pleases people more than surprises. He believes that because his reformation will be completely unexpected, the degree of reverence he will receive will far surpass what he would have received had he always been a good boy. As he nears the end of his monologue, it appears the Prince finds himself to be quite a good boy. He begins these