What is the relationship between Hal and Falstaff?

enotes | Student

When we first see them interacting with each other, Falstaff and Hal trade barbs, and this suggests an equality between the two of them. Yet Hal is Falstaff's superior in ranks and in moral fiber from the very start, and it is important to note that Hal does not take part in the robbery of the wayfarer but instead deceives the cowardly leader of the highwaymen, Falstaff. The two remain on affectionate terms throughout Henry IV: Part 1. Indeed, at the play's conclusion, Hal agrees to give credence to Falstaff's false report of his actions on the field of battle, reassuring Fat Jack, "If a lie may do thee grace/I'll gild it with the happiest terms I have" (V, iv., ll.157-158). Although Falstaff is older than Hal, as the comic scene in which the two alternatively rehearse the parts of "king" and "prince," it becomes evident that Falstaff is not a paternal figure. Moreover, when Falstaff implores Hal to protect him during the battle, as a father would protect a child, Hal explicitly rejects this role. Falstaff cannot be Hal's father, nor can he be his child. Even before Hal turns his back on the braggart soldier in Henry IV: Part 2, the bond between them is tenuous.

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Henry IV, Part I

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