What is the analysis of the character and motivations of Prince Hal from Henry IV?

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Prince Henry, known as Hal, undergoes a series of transformations in the course of the play.

Initially, the young and impulsive Prince of Wales does not take seriously his role as the future king of England. Rather than immerse himself in the arts of statecraft and warfare and provide support...

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Prince Henry, known as Hal, undergoes a series of transformations in the course of the play.

Initially, the young and impulsive Prince of Wales does not take seriously his role as the future king of England. Rather than immerse himself in the arts of statecraft and warfare and provide support for his beleaguered father, Hal prefers to waste his time drinking with disreputable companions. In the course of this carousing, however, he learns a great deal about what ordinary English people think. He also gains the support and friendship of Falstaff, although ultimately, he turns his back on him.

Hal acquires a different kind of understanding of what his country’s needs might be than he would get if he just hung out with elites. Although his avowed plan may sound like boasting or wishful thinking, he claims to be deliberately obscuring his brilliance (comparing himself to the sun) behind “foul and ugly vapours” that one seemed to be harming or strangling him.

Part of what makes Hal an interesting character is that he does manage to absorb much of the necessary knowledge without ever seeming to practice; by this, Shakespeare may be suggesting some genius in his nature. The fundamental soundness of Hal’s approach is contrasted with the vanity and impracticality of the other Henry, Hotspur, on the battlefield.

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