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Honor is an important topic in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1. What do Hotspur, Hal,...

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williamgblai | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:55 AM via web

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Honor is an important topic in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1. What do Hotspur, Hal, and Falstaff each think about honor?

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stefaniecpeters | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 5, 2009 at 12:16 PM (Answer #1)

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Hotspur, Hal, and Falstaff each exhibit a different attitude about honor. For Falstaff, honor is only a word, and that word only air. He does not think it worth dying for, and so he pretends to be dead during the Battle of Shrewsbury in order to save his life. But after Hal kills Hotspur and Falstaff sees an opportunity to gain honor without danger to himself, he jumps on it, even when it means betraying his friend.

For Hotspur, however, honor is everything. He swears that he will "pluck bright honor from the pale faced moon" and plunges headlong into battle in search of it. It costs him his life, and with his life he loses the honor he had in life as well. It turns out to be illusory for him.

Hal lies somewhere between Falstaff and Hotspur. He claims he wants to exchange his disgraces for Hotspur's honor on the battlefield, but then lets Falstaff take the credit for his success. He also lets his brother gain the honor of treating their prisoners magnanimously. But though he seems to deny taking honor for himself, his actions show him to have much more honor than either Falstaff or Hotspur.

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