Lecture Notes on Henry IV Part I


II. Transitions from MND

A. passage from jaques:

1. A soldier/ full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard / Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel/ seeking the bubble reputation/ Even in the cannon's mouth

B. the world opening out

1. kings and clowns and battlefields; expansiveness of this reality in time and space

2. read scene descriptions; show map

3. what kings and royal politics were really like; history lesson

C. continuities

1. themes

a. of initiation, coming of age, A vs. Y--of transformation of identity--Prince Hal to King Harry; issue of career; vocation; demands of office; taking on responsibility and power and public identity; resisting desire to remain "boy eternal" (WT)--Peter Pan; fraternity slogan on T-shirt: we wont grow up--to "no boy's play here" (V, iv, 75)

b. of court and country--second world; sun and moon I,ii

i. the carnivalesque: Oberon and Falstaff

ii. the theatrical: Bottom and Falstaff

2. structures

a. multiple plot and setting

i. principles of parallel--individual, family, and state; psychology, ethics and politics

ii. principle of correspondances; the humors etc. medieval/platonic world picture of order

b. structural complexity

i. resemblances and differences; doubling;

(1). King and Hotspur--usurpers

(2). King and Falstaff--both fathers and subversive

(3). Hotspur and Falstaff--both rebels

(4). Falsaff and Hal--both scoff and are marginal

(5). Hotspur and Hal--both sons; same name

(6). Hal and King--both schemers and politicians

c. interest in illusion/ reality, theatre/world paradoxes--esp. II, iv

D. discontinuities

1. absence of women-

a. identity not in sex but in battle; brothers and fathers; masculine identity expressed through aggression: competition and love (Hotspur)

b. rejection of women altogether; Hotspur II, iii; patriarchy of political world (Salique Law); denial of women (Lady Percy can't curse); cf. Venus and Adonis; A/Ç;

2. from love and metaphysics/imagination--private world; vita amoris; pastoral--to public world, history; warfare; vita activa; epic

a. the vergillian heroic quest; indulge and reject pastoral temptations

i. quote from Spenser FQ; vita triplex; pleasure vs. reality principles

ii. central dichotomy is order and chaos; as ambiguous as illusion and reality in MND

3. emergence into history; passage from private to public; prince to king its central progression; banishment from Eden

III. Shakespeare and history

A. What's happening in 1597?

1. Renaissance historiography and biography

a. sacred vs. secular; Machiavelli, Livy; scriptural vs. historical time; the sense of the past; fama; contrast to medieval worldview and concept of time

b. Humanist interest in education; specifically education of prince-- bildung

2. Tudor History

a. Chronology

i. 1485--Henry VII ends war of Roses; Tudor dynasty established

ii. 1509 Henry VIII --the perfect humanist prince

iii. 1517--Luther's break with Rome

iv. 1534--HVIII excommunicated; Catholic/Calvinist tensions

v. 1553--Bloody Mary

vi. 1558--Elizabeth; middle way; placate enemies abroad

vii. 1587--execution of Mary Queen of Scots; Armada

b. transition from medieval monarchy to absolutism

i. tension of monarch and aristocrats; crisis of aristocracy

c. Elizabethan tensions

i. Catholics; Essex and aristocracy as well as church; threats of rebellion : V, i, 72: These things indeed, you have articulate,/ Proclaimed at market crosses, read in churches,/To face the garment of rebellion/ with some fine color that may please the eye/ Of fickle changelings and poor discontents/ Which gape and rub the elbow at the news/ Of hurleyburley innovation

ii. the censor--1559: offense punishable with imprisonment to perform plays "wherein either matters of religion or of the governance of estate of the common weale shaalbe handled or treated" these being the concern not of actors but only of "menne of auctoritie, learning and wisdome"

iii. the Tudor mystique-- ideology

(1). monarchy: in accord with human nature and God's will; Lord's anointed=Messiah=Christ; Bolingbroke's guilt; washing hands

(2). degree--quote Ulysses

iv. opposite to Machiavellian reality: Leadership, politics is dramatic performance--Reagan and media politics today; Elizabeth's and Henry VIII's use of spectacle and theatricality

(1). illusion of virtue more important than actuality

(2). situations change; good leader does what new situation calls for, not what is consistent with what he did before (Frye)

(a). cf. Bol.'s advice to Hal: III, ii, 46

(3). Hal learning to play social role of king by seeing through it

3. The History play as history

a. Elizabethan Historiography--Hall and Holinshed; Famous Victories; also Cobbler's Prophecy and Woodstock

b. The two tetralogies

i. The dynastic narrative and HVI to RIII

ii. The second and later tetralogy--psychohistorical interest

4. The Henriad in History

a. Authority or Subversion

i. Essex; Elizabeth's remark on RIII; later closing of theatres

ii. Tillyard vs. Haydn on Great Chain of Being

iii. Pacifist vs. Militarist attitudes toward war

(1). Erasmus and More vs. Machiavelli

(2). II H IV, Henry V and TC

(3). In I HIV--Falstaff vs. Hotspur

IV. Overview of the plot

A. history/time as redemptive

1. texts

a. Hal's soliloquy at end of I, ii

b. Promise to Henry : "I will redeem..." III, ii

2. Y vs. A to Youth and Age reconciled and mutually supportive

a. myth of prodigal son; rebellion and reconciliation;

3. bildungsroman plot--Hal's rite of passage

a. Hal's growth pattern (Kahn and Garber)

i. Rebellion and identity

ii. Holiday (MND) and Doomsday (RJ) into everyday

4. his redemption and reconciliation as that of the commonwealth

a. the king's two bodies

b. Reestablishment of legitimate dynastic succession after usurpation; victory of authority over rebellion; Chief justice and Falstaff

c. epic--i.e. imperial prophecies of destiny; cf. Vergil; the heroic quest; prophecies and promises throughout

d. comedic movement toward victory and marriage in HV

e. power achieved not through legitimacy but through a form of misrule; not by blood (Bolingbroke's usurpation, Hal's self-coronation) but through battle and the mastery or harnessing of conflicting social interests--claims of blood; popular support; forces of the margins--Wales, Scotland; both blood and law subordinated to Machiavellian manipulation of power; acting; action

V. Read opening scenes-- introduce major themes and characters

A. I, i: The King

1. his grandeur and power and seriousness; sermonizing (also I, iii)

2. sickness of self, family and kingdom ; dead hand of past (also III, ii)

3. unchivalrousness; a new Machiavellian king--robber king?

a. claim of crusade

b. rise to power

c. use of unchivalrous stratagem at end

4. understandable that Hal wants to escape

B. I, ii: Falstaff and Hal

1. Falstaff

a. holiday

i. party time= saturnalia; Lord of Misrule; the Vice; reign of Folly; releasing and containing chaos; abuse; invocation of nature; attic comedy; medieval idea of youth and riot (Pardoner's Tale, Morality plays); sun and moon

b. anarchy

i. don't hang a thief

c. Protean identitylessness

i. always parodying and role playingJester, fool; Huge personality; emptiness at center? The actor, comedian; imitation of king in blank verse rather than prose; imitation of puritan; of miles gloriosus; however his generosity--cause of wit in other men

d. scepticism;

i. refusal to believe any ideology--satirical function--standing outside; confusing truth and lies

ii. mocking religion and righteousness; question of laughter and license and cruelty; makes explicit the hyprocrisy and role playing of others--King and Hotspur

e. language and style--imagination

i. making similes--language play--combative; testing; strenthening wit; manipulation of deceptive language and rhetoric; shortness of breath defines rhythms of his speech

f. his badness

i. refusal to pay debts--mistress quickly (III, ii)

ii. misusing the king's press (IV, ii)

2. Hal

a. sense of timing; timing and politics; timing in revelation of self

b. tricking trickster; falsifying hopes; advantage of surprise and concealment; concealed motive; redeeming time--cleverness, flexibility; attractiveness and coldness

C. I, iii: Hotspur-- view video

1. dramatic structure of the scene: war in council cf. war at shrewsbury; buildup and release of tension; comedic contrast

a. more disorder in the kingdom; hatching of conspiracy by Worcester

2. language--Hot spur--lives in his voice; torrent of talk; hotspur as poet--give examples

a. "revolted Mortimer"--end of cadence; drunk with choler; absent mindedness; claims of taciturnity coupled with loquaciousness--when will he have done; Worcester doesn't believe he's done

3. Honor--vision of some great exploit and the pale-faced moon...another lunatic as in MND--cf. Falstaff; the moon's men--apprehends a world of figures

a. doomsday man--die all, die merrily; erotics of Harry to Harry (III,iii); overheated, like Romeo--burns out (V, iv, 76)

b. dreams of battle; love of horse (II,iii)--chevalier; chivalry; old aristocracy

c. absent mindedness--out of touch; ability to justify any setback as occasione ("Out of nettle danger, we pluck flower safety" (III,ii)

D. II, i: Teamster, Ostler and Gadshill

1. more chaos--economic--and conspiracy of thieves

2. sympathy for working class and animals, opposed to nobility; Christian class consciousness; enclosure; commercial revolution

E. II , ii: The robbery; thieves stealing from thieves--disorder; laughter and pity for Falstaff (see III, i: Rebels contesting map--also for fun)

VI. Close analysis of II, iv

A. Cast:

1. Prince







B. includes plays within play; ; humor and tension; climactic intensity and reversal at knocking on door--outside world of reality vs. cellar world of fantasy; holiday over at moment of greatest festivity

1. breaking of frames

2. characters doubling for one another; role playing and testing; prediciting outcome; opposites intermixing; truth and lies; themes of MND

C. Temporal structure

1. time passing; the morning comes

a. RJ/MND; passage from drunk prince: shall we be merry; lend me thy hand to laugh a little; pulling silly joke on tapster--to "I do; I will" (Banish Jack Falstaff) and at that moment the knocking at the door; we must all to the wars

2. continuity and interruptions

a. Falstaff's bluster; Prince's manipulation; Prince's inquiry of Bardolph--i.e. finding informers--keeping spies; searching out what is hidden; Falstaff's festive spirit and change of subject; Prince's return to it; Falstaff stands in for father; brings Hal the news of battle and summons from father; asks about fear; parodies Hotspur; the ritual enactment of the inquisition from father does make it easier for Hal in III,ii. But Hal gets--in typical moratorium fashion--to try out the conflicting roles within him. Contest between King's voice and Falstaff's voice--the last word is always left hanging; deposing of the king included; at moment of greatest tension there is interruption; Falstaff retires behind arras and goes to sleep; Hal takes over and stays up all night--it is morrow; sun comes out; he does this by asking for a true face and a good conscience that will enable him to lie to the sherrif, but at a deeper level tell the truth. While Falstaff sleeps, Hal searches his pockets and finds out seedy truth about him.

3. enacts Basic tension inside Hal between King and mature duty and Falstaff's playful cowardice.

VII. Analysis of Act V; conclusion and incorporation

A. Battlefield as determinant; trial by combat; warfare as problem solving

B. Doomsday; judgement; outcome of all suspended contests

C. All main characters now assembled on stage; spectacle is grandest; most "historical"

D. Specific passages

1. i, l: the bloody sun--ambivalent imagery

2. 6: King: nothing can seem foul to those that win--secondary meaning re ends justify means

3. 80: rationalization (a la Falstaff)--never yet did insurrection/want such water colors to impaint his cause

4. 121: Falstaff's fear and reflection on honor: What is honor: a word--cf. RJ/ scepticism..expanded iv, 56, 110; as positive insight; as cynical exploitation--iii, 35

a. Hal: thou owest god a death (debt) Falstaff: Tis not due yet; on time vs. Hotspur--ii, 8l: The time of life is short

b. Worcester's withholding of information in next scene is dishonorable; also full of lies like Falstaff and the King's counterfeits

c. Contrast to Hotspur's utterly romantic idealism

5. climactic dramaturgy of V, iv --watch on video

a. center of the action

b. complex blocking and staging

c. climax upon climax; surprise upon surprise--compare to II, iv

d. thematic/symbolic content

i. Laying claim to name and title of father (V, iv, 57-62); from foil to Hotspur (I,i, 86-9) to appropriation of him (V, v, 136); tavern to court, absorbing all along the way so as to become the mirror of all England; the person of the nation in all its diversity; ethical dialectic (from Aristotle): courage is mean between rashness (Hotspur) and cowardice (Falstaff)

ii. Absorption of Falstaff and Hotspur into new king figure; hieratic, symbolic resonance of final scenes; holiday and doomsday both included

iii. Hal once again rejects holiday for workaday or doomsday: "is it a time to jest and dally now?"

(1). "redeems lost opinion" (iv, 47)

(2). Percy and Falstaff both lie beside him; he has appropriated both; says good bye to both; but Falstaff revives: life vs. death

(a). ending not conclusive

(b). Falstaff gets last word about death and honor

(1). question of which is counterfeit--we die in earnest, that's no jest

6. Confusion about Falstaff's resurrection and with it the scepticism about honor and the affirmation of Misrule; atmosphere of MND; what is lie and what is truth?

7. Why end here; A lie may do thee grace; truth and falsehood; illusion necessary; theatre and politics

8. Tieing things off with political restoration

VIII. Do we read Part II; do we want more--Hal, king, Falstaff; shift of tone? Reasons to get into it; already familiar territory; sense of Shakespeare's richness.