Analysis Of Falstaff's Role In 1 Henry Iv Essay Traces Falstaff's Function And Role Of Mirroring Throughout The Play

1400 words - 6 pages

Falstaff's Role in I Henry IVIn Shakespearean histories, there is always one individual who influences the major character and considerably advances the plot. In I Henry IV by William Shakespeare, Falstaff is such a character. Sir John Falstaff is perhaps the most complex comic character ever invented. He carries a dignified presence in the mind's eye; and in him, we recognize our internal admiration and jealousy of the rebellious dual personality that we all secretly wish for. The multi-faceted Falstaff, in comic revolt against law and order, in his role as father figure to Prince Hal, and ultimately, in his natural ability to discern and adapt to any situation, emerges as the most complex ...view middle of the document...

In addition he is simultaneously dignifies but also humiliated.The relationship between Falstaff and Prince Hal is an unusual one. The two frequently exchange spontaneous, good-natured insults and the reader comes to see that in reality, they are not unfitting for each other. Prince Hal is Falstaff's surrogate son; and for the fractious Prince himself, Falstaff is a second father, a parent he neither fears nor respects. He is one on whom he executes all his whims, even persuading Falstaff to emulate a parental role, while he kneels at Hal's feet and pretends to listen to his reprimands. For all Falstaff believes he's influencing Hal, but in reality the prince is just manipulating him, which is apparent to the reader. In looking at the following passage, we see Hal's description of Falstaff as a gluttonous derelict who has feels no sense of responsibility for either himself or others.Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of oldsack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleep-ing upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgottento demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know.What a devil hast thou to do with the time of theday? (I, ii, 2-4)Time, a symbol of the ordered life, could not concern a man who spends his days drinking sack, eating, sleeping, and frequenting brothels.Another creation of mirrors is created through Falstaff's act of mock virtue and faithfulness. His performance is an inversion of the king's position. By mirroring the king's role and usurpation of the thrown he represents a man who was once tempted and corrupted. Furthermore, Falstaff incorporated religious acronyms and a means to mock and create an ironic reflection of the king's guilt. This role of reflection represents a mock version of reformation.Through Falstaff's multi-layered role he even succeeds at creating a mirror between the central scene of the king and prince Hal. Before the prince meets with his father, Shakespeare introduces the notion of play acting in the tavern, immediately followed by which the king speaks of Hal's supposedly deteriorating behavior. Here Falstaff creates a version of the necessary and immediate need for change. Falstaff's carefree attitude provides an ironic mirror that offers a spoof approach on the conventional behavior of the officials and of the kingdom.Finally, Falstaff's natural ability to perceive or know how to react in a situation is ultimately, what makes this character so complex. Wit is often an insubstantial substitute for pleasurable sensation; emanating from trivial spite at the cost of others. Falstaff's wit emerges from a copiousness of good humor and good nature. He would not be in character, if he were not as fat as he is described; for there is the greatest awe in his imagination and the pampered self- of his physical appetites. The interrelationship between levels depicts traces of...

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