Henry IV, Part I Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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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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We can think about these three characters as the "three bears" of honor based on the fairytale "Goldilocks and the Three Bears:" one is too soft about honor, one too hard, and one is "just right."

Falstaff is too soft. Honor matters too little to him. He is more concerned with having a good time, getting ahead a little in the world, and protecting himself from harm. He isn't the type to let a promise inconvenience him or put himself in the way of an arrow on a battlefield. As he says, what is honor?

Can honor set to a
leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a
wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery, then?
No. What is honor? A word. What is in that word
'honor'?

Falstaff's not a person you can depend on in a crisis—that is, you can only depend on him not to be around. He calls himself "a coward on instinct."

Hotspur, on the other hand, is too obsessed with honor. He's "too hard." It makes him a poor leader, because he is judgmental and holds everybody to too high a standard. He is...

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