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The dramatic character Falstaff appears in three of Shakespeare’s plays, a character “type” somewhat familiar to Shakespeare’s audience, a “hail fellow, well met” type who is a companion to the main figure in his recreational state. In Henry IV Part 1 Falstaff is not given a three-dimensional portrait, but is seen as a superficial playboy, a sort of Vice figure (gluttony) who has no life outside the pleasure-seeking existence of being a rich young man’s drinking companion. He has no “character” (meaning ethical or moral integrity) because he has no scenes in which this element of human behavior is explored or dramatized. His charm or “style,” on the other hand, is obvious, and is what makes his company desirable to Hal in his youth. Henry IV’s rejection, then in Henry IV Part2 (“I know thee not, old man”) is a dramatic indicator that Prince Hal has rejected his youthful persona (Falstaff: “I am not only witty in myself, but the cause of wit in other men”) and is ready to be King. In The Merry Wives of Windsor Falstaff appears again, many scholars say at the request of Queen Elizabeth to see Falstaff in love.
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