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Compare Prince Hal to Hotspur in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I.

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meloui | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 16, 2010 at 1:10 AM via web

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Compare Prince Hal to Hotspur in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I.

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 16, 2010 at 6:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Hal, who is otherwise known as Prince Henry of Wales and the future King of England, is very different from his counterpart, Hotspur. Hal enjoys a good time, and expends his energies plotting pranks with an unsavory element at the pubs. Although he is being groomed to one day be King, Hal avoids his responsibilities in the royal court. He is a work in progress, and the reasons behind his outlandish behavior are much debated by critics.

Hotspur, whose real name is Henry Percy, on the other hand, is an inarguably honorable character who stands in stark contrast to the more lackadaisical Hal. The son of the Earl of Northumberland, Hotspur is valiant in battle and actively seeks recognition for his military prowess. He is charismatic, brave, and loyal, exhibiting a sense of purpose and seriousness that Hal appears to be sorely lacking.

It is a tribute to Hal's perceptiveness that he recognizes the strength of character possessed by his rival. He says of Hotspur,

"I do not think a braver gentleman,

More active-violent or more valiant-young,

More daring or more bold, is now alive

To grace this latter age with noble deeds" (V.i.89-93).

Hal also astutely recognizes Hotspur's tragic flaw - although Hotspur is complex and unfailingly noble, he, unlike Hal, does not have the ability to live in the real world of his times, a world which Hal describes as "the vilest earth" (V.iv.91).

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