Hal has two father figures, Falstaff and Henry IV. They are both different from each other, and what they teach Hal. Falstaff seems to mislead Hal, and his real father discards him. Ultimately, there is only room for one of them and Hal makes a choice, but not forgetting what he has learnt. Falstaff as a father figure, and as a regular man, seems to have many visible faults. Although he is a warm character, Hal says he is fat, “ye fat kidneyed rascal”, a thief, “Where shall we take a purse tomorrow, Jack?
” and he is lazy. All of the things mentioned about Falstaff in his opening speech make out as this criminal who lazes about all day and sins. This first impression is lasting and makes Falstaff seem a bad role model, and not a suitable father. He educates Hal, but not what might be seen as right, or in the right way. However he is funny and is made to appeal to the audience, as a lovable rogue. “Honour is a mere scutcheon” Here Falstaff is exposing the emptiness of honour, and Hal sees it that way too.
He thinks of honour as a means of getting what he wants, and if he were considered honourable, he would be more respected. A scutcheon is like a wooden thing that is painted over to make it look better quality. He not only teaches him but also tries to strongly influence him. ” Do not thou when thou art king hang a thief” Falstaff tries to tell Hal not to hang thieves when he is king but Hal turns it around and says that Falstaff will hang the thieves, and also subtlety says he will cast him off.
Shakespeare’s use of language here, especially the puns, were suited to the audience of the time, but are less clear to the audience now as pronunciations change, and some words aren’t in use any more. When Poins and Hal rob Falstaff of his own loot, he makes up a story saying four men attacked him. However this story escalates more until it becomes a hundred people attacking Falstaff. ” These four all came affront, and… took all their seven points in my target” Falstaff is lying to Hal, because Hal knows what really happened, as he was the one to have robbed Falstaff.
Someone that lies and cheats can’t be very good at fathering can he? Falstaff`s faults make him a bad father figure, but should be thought of as a helpful teacher. He shows Hal how to really live and how the common people live, something he will have to understand to become a better king. When Falstaff asks the time, “Now Hal, what time of day is it, lad? ” Hal replies by referring to parts of the clock as Falstaff’s pleasures (“Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons”), and says that only if that were true would Falstaff want to know the time.
This shows how Hal knows Falstaff and suggests Hal is in control. Later in the play when Hal begins his reformation talked about in his soliloquy, “Redeeming time when men least think I will,” he also begins to shrug off Falstaff as shown on the battlefield. Hal’s soliloquy is the best insight to him, as Shakespeare uses these play devices so the audience can see the real character. “What, is it a time to jest and dally now? ” Hal is saying this, because he asks for Falstaff’s sword and Falstaff can only produce a bottle of wine, which Hal throws back at him.
This is the beginning of Hal redemption, showing that he no longer wants to play around. He also begins to question Falstaff’s influence as a father. The king is no better as a father. While he is no thief or a bad example (except for his supposed disposing of King Richard) he does not father Hal properly. He is very good at manipulation and this trait show up in Hal. He even openly says that he wishes Hal wasn’t his son! (“… Then I would have his Harry, and his mine. “). He is very dismissive of Hal and doesn’t say anything praising about him.
This is probably why Hal turned to Falstaff and got roped into his way of living. “Whilst I by looking on the praise of him See riot and dishonour stain the brow Of my young Harry” The king speaks in verse, as this is Shakespeare’s way of showing his formality. The king says this in front of many different courtiers and important people. Hal resents this and bad feeling does come between father and son. Instead of speaking to Hal, the king casts him aside and that is why Hal turns to Falstaff. They don’t ever seem to communicate.
“That in his secret doom out of my blood He’ll breed revengement and a scourge for me. ” The King is saying here that God is making him pay for some misdeed by making Hal act the way he does. This is in act three scene two, where the king is telling Hal off and where Hal says he will redeem his self. “For thou hast lost thy princely privelege With vile participation. ” Shortly after the king says this, he comes to tears but Hal recovers the whole situation by telling his father he will make it up to him.
” I will redeem all this on Percy’s head” This doesn’t make up for the king’s faults, but he does start to show some appreciation. ” A hundred thousand rebels die in this. Thou shalt have charge and sovereign trust herein” At the end of the play, Hal saves his father’s life, kills Hotspur and this is when the king opens up. They both learn from the events around them, Hal to be a good son, and the king to be a real father. “Thou hast redeemed thy lost opinion, And showed thou makst some tender of my life. ”
Shakespeare completely distorts and manipulates history for his own benefit, particularly with Hotspur and Hal, concerning their rivalry. In real life, Hotspur was as old as King Henry, but Shakespeare changed it so that the two could be juxtaposed, and would come between the King and his appreciation of his son. Hal makes himself look better and the king becomes a better father figure. In the end, the King is the better father out of him and Falstaff, but what Hal is taught by Falstaff is still important.
Hal benefits from having the two father figures because he gains two sets of teaching. These combined will make him a great ruler. Overall the King is the better father figure but he just needs to adjust and be more fatherly to Hal, for he is very cold. While Falstaff shares laughter with Hal, but it is usually at him and he is only so much use as a teacher. Falstaff’s saving grace is his warmth. This leads to Hal shrugging him off. A teacher is no more use when you have learnt all he has to offer, but your father will always be there.