Presentation on theme: "Henry IV, Part I Third lecture “Depose me?” Power and legitimacy."— Presentation transcript:
Henry IV, Part I Third lecture “Depose me?” Power and legitimacy
Can Henry find legitimacy for his usurped kingship? “So shaken as we are, so wan with care...” How to legitimate his rule: his desire for “new broils” in a world that might sacralize his reign. Against the abomination, impiety of civil war (ll. 5-13). Instead a war to unite England in a sacred cause. “BUT this our purpose...” And now new rebellion from Wales, Glendower. And new threats from Scots in North. And so he must neglect “our holy purpose” for Jerusalem.
Ironies of the new rebellion The self-consuming nature of rebellion: Henry’s old allies now challenge him. Worcester’s gaff: I, 3, 12-13. He reminds Henry of his own rebellion. Henry’s bind: Hotspur’s refusal of prisoners, unless Henry ransoms Mortimer. But Mortimer may have as good a claim in the throne as Henry. Is Henry right about “revolted Mortimer”? I, 3, 125ff: with Northumberland, Hotspur, Worcester in revolt, the pattern that Henry set in motion continues anew. How to rule in a world in which kingship has lost its sense of divine legitimacy?
Henry’s bind: He lacks the clear legitimacy Richard possessed. Rebelling, he has brought rebellion on himself. His eldest son seems not fit to inherit the kingdom. Because of rebellion, he cannot try to “create” legitimacy by a crusade to the holy land.
Instead of legitimate kingship, performative kingship Lacking legitimacy, Henry must “perform” his kingship. He acts the king with Worcester and Northumberland. But having a plausible heir apparent would help: His interview with Hal: III. 2. Is Hal in fact a punishment for his rebellion: ll 4-17. His own path: ll. 39ff. “Opinion, that did help me to the crown” – “opinion”? This is a new understanding. He managed his appearances: seldom seen, he was wondered at “And then I stole all courtesy from heaven... And made King Richard his foil. Hal needs to perform his prospective kingship. Hotspur now giving a better performance of kingship: ll. 96ff.
Hal’s alternative idea of a performance of heir-apparent He’ll play the part of the reformed prodigal (soliloquy, I, 2, 188ff “I know you all and will a while uphold/ The unyoked humor of your idleness”). Now his vision of his reformation: III, 2, 132ff. Hotspur his “factor,” a servant to gather up glory. He’ll seize Hotspur’s “honor” and exchange it for his indignities. Or die. All very neat?
Tavern world as foil – or mirror? Hal: “Who,I rob? I a thief?” (I, 2, 134) Falstaff: “There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee, nor cam’st not of the blood royal if thou darest not stand for ten shillings.” (Ten-shilling coin was a “royal”) Treachery of chamberlain in II, 1; he betrays his guests. Gadshill: “I am joined with no foot landrakers... but with nobility and tranquility...” And thieves robbing thieves in II.2. Falstaff as king, “deposed” by Hal: II, 4, 420. (Later, in H. IV, part 2, Hal will, without intending it, “depose” his father, “seizing” the crown.)
The rebellion: military realities and Hotspur’s “honor” IV, 1, Hotspur the “king of honor,” but.. Northumberland’s sickness “doth infect/ The very lifeblood of our enterprise.” “And yet, in faith, it is not!” Why? Hotspur’s rhetorical turn, ll 76ff. H: “O that Glendower were come.” And Hotspur’s response. His eagerness to fight: IV, 3. Archbishop of York’s assessment: IV, 4, 19-20.
Is there reason for the rebellion? Henry’s offer: IV, 3, 46ff. Hotspur’s response: Henry owes us. A matter of “honor”? And Henry’s title isn’t good enough. Falstaff’s rejoinder to Worcester’s protest, V, 1: “Rebellion lay in his way and he found it.” Worcester’s reasons – Henry’s illegitimacy, ingratitude. Single combat between Hal and Hotspur? Fat chance! Reiteration of Henry’s offer: 104ff. Not conveyed to Hotspur! Worcester’s self-interest. So Hotspur and rebels are outnumbered 3 to 1 and still want to join battle.
“The king hath many marching in his coats” V, 3: we learn Douglas has already killed Stafford disguised as king. Douglas now kills Blunt disguised as king. Audience’s sense of this, and then our realization. Douglas: “I’ll murder all his wardrobe.” Honor? Men giving their lives for king’s safety. Falstaff’s comment on Blunt’s honor. “I like not such grinning honor as Sir Walter hath. Give me life...”
Hal’s gallantry, or his gallant image? Vernon’s verbal image: IV, 1, 104. His praise of Hotspur and offer of single combat,V, 1, 83ff. V, 4: refuses to leave battle, though he’s wounded. And he kills Douglas and saves his father! S.d.: “They fight. The King being in danger, enter the Prince of Wales.” Then defeats Hotspur His gallantry to the defeated, dead Hotspur, finishing his last sentence. His double gallantry to brother John and to Douglas.
Stage image: Hal between Hotspur and Falstaff On stage Falstaff appears dead; we need to forget what we know from stage direction: Falstaff “who fall(s) down as if he were dead.” To audience, Falstaff appears dead. Hotspur also dead. Prince Hal stands between them. To return to humors theme: Hal appears the tempered mean between the two extremes. “Oh, I should have a heavy miss of thee/ If I were much in love with vanity.” But now he has emerged from vanity of tavern world, and has won the honor that Hotspur had striven for.
But “Falstaff riseth up” “S’blood, ‘twas time to counterfeit.” “Counterfeit? I lie; I am no counterfeit. To die is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man; but to counterfeit dying when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life.” Take that Hotspur! Literally! “Therefore, sirrah, with a new wound in your thigh, come you along with me.” So “Vanity” bears off “Honor”?
Where does this leave Hal? He has saved his father (his true father). He has defeated rebellion. And killed the gallant Hotspur. He has emerged from the tavern world. He has performed princely valor. And now can appear the strong leader his father had yearned for. But is the issue of legitimacy solved?
Rebellion Henry in final scene: “Thus ever did rebellion find rebuke.” Well, not exactly. But Worcester, a cause of the battle, is executed. Vernon too. Lots of mopping up to be done. “Rebellion in this land shall lose his sway,/ Meeting the check of such another day.” But there’s still Northumberland, the Archbishop of York, Glendower and Mortimer.
The political effect of the play? Is kingship now a matter of performance, appearance? Is honor a reality, or a dangerous concept? Can legitimacy ever be restored to the monarchy? What’s the “Falstaff effect” on the political world?