Summary: the Role of the Play Henry Iv Part 1 in British History

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Shakespeare shaped how the people of Britain viewed power and honor during the Renaissance era with Henry IV Part 1. This play had a significant role in British history and the cultural change regarding honor and power. During the Renaissance era, Britain was being heavily influenced by humanistic views that allowed a new political perspective to the people of Britain, this play showcased how Shakespeare could have influenced new views on what honor and power looked like. Shakespeare embraced the Renaissance era, by portraying Prince Hal as a flawed prince before the Renaissance era literature did not have characters like King Henry or Prince Hal that were conveyed as complex characters with personal weaknesses. Hotspur was not a part of the monarch or was a noble but he was portrayed as a man that had values and honor. Shakespeare uses literary devices like symbolism to give the readers of the Renaissance Era, the characters true perception of themselves and internal struggles. The major or universal theme that surfaces throughout this play are honor and how there is never clarity to it.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

The historical context plays a big role in this play, during the Renaissance era, the people of Britain began to familiarize themselves with humanism. Humanism is a way of life centered on human interests, it originated from Italy but slowly progressed into Britain. Henry IV Part 1 was written in 1597 and the Renaissance and humanism era did not progress until the early fifteenth century. Humanism encouraged education, by being more informed and educated they could widen their perspectives and lead to a rebirth concerning art, politics, and cultures. With the Renaissance era, England had major political and religious changes, Shakespeare showcased humanistic behaviors by giving his character more complexity. Having Greek and Roman knowledge, Shakespeare even conveyed the monarch family to be more complex and show a weakness in the personal understanding of themselves. The Renaissance and humanism era was a period where people find their independence and discover their true personal feelings and be liberally creative in literature. Plays like Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth, Shakespeare has displayed the complicated feelings of these characters, this fostered his influence in the Renaissance and humanism era. Henry IV Part heavily demonstrated humanistic characteristics, Prince Hal dealing with internal struggles of what honor what supposed to look like. At the beginning of the play, Prince Hal pretends to be a degenerate to capture his father’s attention, these feelings are what connected Shakespeare and the audience during the Renaissance era. This also connects to the era of the Middle Ages, having it come to a mid-1400s, Shakespeare influenced the Renaissance era by giving his characters a relatable image of Prince Hal hiding his ‘honor’ from his father. Middle Ages, is one of the darkest eras, Shakespeare influenced the Renaissance and humanism with Henry IV Part1 by providing examples as to what it means to be honorable on your terms. Through Prince Hal’s soliloquy, Hal expresses the true meaning of him associating himself like Falstaff, who is a humorous and uncaring character, causing him to ruin his reputation as a Prince. The recurring theme of not having clarity of what honor means is displayed through Hotspur who has not reached the understanding of what honor is instead Hotspur decides to twist his reality and squander his given expectations but ends up on the opposing side of his real honorable intentions. This play and many other of Shakespeare’s plays seized the attention of the people from the Renaissance era, honor being the persistent theme connects with the rebirth era. Hotspur being the embodiment of honor at the beginning of Henry IV Part 1, is what society before the Renaissance and humanism era illustrated what they thought honor is. Shakespeare demonstrated a completely different image as to what honor was. Prince Hal who was hiding his honorable characteristics from his father did not seem to care how much his reputation seeped with honor. Unlike Prince Hal, Hotspur became obsessed with his reputation and his merit, being caught up with being an honorable person, he did not come to this consensus as Prince Hal did. By not allowing to be engrossed on what defines honor and what makes a valuable powerful leader, is the message Shakespeare was attempting to send during the humanism and Renaissance era.

Shakespeare expresses his messages and true meaning through literary devices, he demonstrated multiple literary devices in Henry IV Part1 such as symbolism, imagery, and metaphors. All of these are supporting the unwavering theme of honor and its portrayal, symbolism, and allusion played a big part in giving the audience an image of what honor looks like. But if you dig deeper in Prince Hal’s soliloquy you would find metaphors of Prince Hal comparing the sun to being the son of King Henry. In his soliloquy, he uses a pun that adds a humorous play on words. He emphasizes his desire to have a better relationship with his father, revealing that his delinquent behavior was only a lie to apprehend his attention and has the power and honor to take the throne. King Henry never afraid to scold Prince Hal on being such a lousy prince motivates Hal to show real honor by comparing him Hotspur who at the time was considered a war hero and very important to fight the battles of England. Allusion contributes to the theme, Hotspur gave the audience the allusion that he was a brave and honorable man even King Henry praised him. Hotspur was never meant to be the representation of what honor looks like, Shakespeare tried to make the point to the audience of what the expectation of a person is never their reality. Hotspur, at the beginning of the play, appeared to be the one with honor and the potential to be an heir, but in reality, it was an obsessive and underrepresentation of what honor is. Metaphors like, ‘A son who is the theme of honor’s tongue’ and ‘see riot dishonor stain the Brow, Of my young Harry’ used by King Henry to compare Hotspur and Prince Hal to criticize his son for his neglectful attitude towards his duties as a prince. As a result, Prince Hal is provoked to gain his father’s trust and offers to kill Hotspur due to his rebellious action. ‘I know you all, and will awhile uphold, The unyoked humor of your idleness yet herein will imitate the sun who doth permit the base contagious clouds to smother up his beauty from the world.’ with this metaphor and pun Prince Hal reveals his true intentions as to why he was acting like a criminal. This metaphor emphasizes the trust Prince Hal has in himself since the beginning and compares gaining his father’s trust like a sun that is going to be reborn from the cloudiness of his dishonorable friends. Hal has planned to be glorious once the sun has come out and earned the approval of his father. These literary devices have had a critical role in this play’s theme but in the audience’s perspective there was rarely detected besides the pieces of evidence like Prince Hal and King Henry’s soliloquies, the theme of honor was a difficult task to detect throughout the play. Shakespeare did base the majority of the play to be in action in contrast with his plays like Hamlet. The characters in Henry IV Part 1 did not have the intricate details that Hamlet did, it could be the fact that Hamlet was written a few years after Henry IV. The Renaissance era did not fully flourish until the sixteen hundreds the era could have inspired Shakespeare to add more detail and real-life dilemmas to his character.

Henry IV Part 1 theme had a significant impact on the overall history of literature as well as the characters like Prince Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff are still much remembered in the number of plays Shakespeare has written. Hotspur was in the literature to be a reckless and hot head person who was obsessed to be perceived as an honorable man, his name also surprisingly means to be a reckless person. Prince Hal was portrayed to be careless and lousy but soon he facade fell and became what many define honorable or a man with many principles. Falstaff has been recognized in literature as an old fat knight that celebrated his every step in life, he mocked and made jokes about King Henry but was and still is an important figure to Shakespeare plays you could say he’s a unique and distinct character that has embraced by all readers, adding humor to a long Shakespeare is what made the readers fully accept his antics. All of these characters contributed to the history of literature by introducing new perspectives on what is honorable or what has power. Shakespeare intended to impact literature and the Renaissance and humanism era by providing characters that were going through a personal dilemma that can define their reputation. Although, in Henry IV Part 1it was a little difficult to find the universal theme of honor and not grasping the true meaning of being honorable. Shakespeare impacted history majorly in the Renaissance and humanism.   

Get quality help now

Prof. Carstensen

Verified writer

Proficient in: British Empire, Medieval Europe, Writers

4.8 (459 reviews)
“ Excellent! She is very professional, meet all the requirements, fast turn around time, communicates, and an overall 100/10. ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Essay Samples on Topic

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.