Everyone has a different vision of what makes a good ruler, but to me it is a person who is strong, brave, cunning and ruthless, but knows when to be merciful. These qualities can be seen in Hal Hotspur throughout the play, but which one would be the best next ruler of England?
Hal is first portrayed as an irresponsible little boy who does not realise the importance of his position. Yet in his soliloquy he reveals his cunning and his true nature, in the fact that he, ‘Yet herein will I imitate the sun’.
He is using his ‘friends’ to make his revelation look even better, ‘So when this loose behaviour I throw of, and pay the debt I never promised’.
Once he has reformed and it at his fathers side he becomes a very ruthless character, in fact as soon as he gets the order from his farther that he must join the battle he leaves his past behaviour behind and becomes a very serious character, ‘But sirrah, there’s no room for faith, truth, nor honesty in this bosom of thine,’ he dismisses Falstaff with no-nonsense and gives him his orders to set out and gather an army for the on coming battle.
Hal’s further seriousness is shown when he is on his way to the battle and meets up with Falstaff, he then goes on to insult his so called army, ‘I did never see such pitiful rascals’. Hal does seem to be very eager to get to his father’s side to fight off the rebellion and he urges Falstaff to do the same, ‘But sirrah make haste, Percy is already in the field.
Hal displays his bravery and nobility once at the battlefield when he offers to fight Hotspur himself in order to stop the lives that will be lost in the battle, ‘ And will, to save the blood on either side, try fortune with him in a single fight’. This is in fact an extremely brave or perhaps fatally stupid act from Hal as Hotspur is regarded as one of the best swordsmen in England and could face down many opponents.
Hal though, does know when to be a merciful person and does recognise the fact that sometimes people are just following orders, this is shown at the end of the battle when he allows Douglas to be free, ‘Go to the Douglas, and deliver him up to his pleasure, ransom less and free. His valour shown upon our crests today’. This is also a good political move, as releasing one of their Earls would make relations a lot better.al
Hotspur is a very serious person and doesn’t believe in anything that he can’t see with his own eyes, ‘O then the earth shook to see the heavens on fire, and not of your nativity.’ He does not believe in the fact that when Glendower was born the earth shook and the heavens were on fire and that he was born to be a great leader and this would allow him and the rebels to defeat the king. He dismiss’ this fact and puts it down to other more earthly occurrences.
Hotspur is a arrogant man and feels like he is far superior to Hal, ‘I will embrace him with a soldier arm, that he shall shrink under my courtesy’, but he does have a good reason to be arrogant towards Hal, as he still knows Hal as the irresponsible little boy who just fools around with his friends.
He is obviously a extremely brave valiant and great fighter in the fact that he defeated the Scottish, but he is very rash and disobedient to the king and others, ‘I will not send them. I will after straight and tell him so, for I will ease my heart’.
A lot of these qualities with the fact that he rebelled against the king of England would seem to suggest that he is a evil man, but really he is not as it was his uncle Worcester who convince him to start the rebellion and is the one who later on hides from him the possible chance of peace given by the king, ‘ O no, my nephew must not know, Sir Richard, the liberal and kind offer of the king’. This of course leads to his death in the battle. All this is done in the name of honour. Hotspur is so easily tricked into fighting because of his constant strive for honour, everything he does is in the name of honour. He is very much a mans man and will not show any sign of weakness, this is his weakness and the downfall of him.
Both Hal and Hotspur would make good kings, but Hotspur’s rashness and constant honour drive, would make him a dangerous king of England and could lead to the destruction of all that is England. Whereas Hal would be a perfect candidate for the English crown and as history shows he goes on to become one of the greatest kings of England.