Thesis: The evolution of the symbiotic relationship between Harry and Falstaff transitions from a subordinate entertaining relationship to one of burden and danger considering the self-absorbing plots executed by both parties which will undeniably cause a permanent rift between the two. The play by William Shakespeare, Henry the ‘V, is a dramatic portrayal of the various relationships and emotions inherent within the father-son relationship especially emphasized between Harrys surrogate-like father Falstaff, and his biological father King Henry.
As the play begins the relationship between father and on is emphasized by the character of King Henry the Fourth and his rebellious son Prince of Wales; Harry or Hal. Falstaff is an elderly obese man who is known by all to be lazy, dishonest, manipulative and subsequently enjoys the benefits of being friends with the powerful Prince of Wales Harry. Falstaff is also the favorite of Prince Harry, who he mentors in the ways of thieves to earn Harrys favor and simultaneously Harry enjoys the refuge he finds with him.
Furthermore, Harry perceives Falstaff to be influential fgure as well as a surrogate father, but also as a drunken fool whom he delights in aunting. The early relationship of Harry and Falstaff is one of light-hearted fun as Harry relishes lampooning Falstaff and plays practical Jokes on him for his pure amusement. For example after a group robbery was committed by the four corrupt men, Harry and Poins decided to rob Falstaff and scare him into flight.
Afterwards they then regrouped with the crew of men and listened in as Falstaff told tale tales of how first several men over-powered him and took off with the goods to then how a dozen men over-powered him and ran off with his earnings. These fraudulent stories f courage seem to fascinate Harry as they exacerbate Falstaff’s ability to fabricate his way out of such situations. In these situations where Harry is teasing Falstaff, Falstaff seems misleadingly to be deserving of his punishments and mistreatments from Harry due to being a lying, selfish thief.
Harry gives the audience further insight as he gives a soliloquy, conjuring a plan to reclaim his respect by finally returning to a noble princely life and ridding himself of his impure company. Ironically, Harrys selfish intention to use Falstaff and his other criminal associates in order to further his political agenda hows a darker side to Harry then previously suspected. This type of semi-aggressive play on the behalf of Harry is the way which he and Falstaff continued to interact with one another early in their friendship.
The turning point of the play comes in the form of a message from the King himself to his son Harry, who informs Harry of an impending rebellion taking place lead by none other than his arch nemesis Hotspur. The King further requests Harry to appear before him to discuss matters of war and tactic. As Harry transforms to his higher calling as Prince of Wales he begins to change is company as well. Harry also has a younger brother John of Lancaster who shares the same first name as Falstaff; John.
This conuencedence symbolizes the conversion 0T tne arunKen Falsta TT Delng Harrys Tavorlte to nls younger, nonoraDle Drotner Jonn of Lancaster earning his favor instead. This depiction of Harry having a so-called “good John” and “bad John” in his life further symbolizes the two different paths Harry could take in living his life; either nobly or cowardly. The final phase of their relationship comes in the final scene while Harry is ighting Hotspur, in a battle which holds the future of the kingdom in the balance.
Along with being Harrys chance at retribution it is also his chance to conquer his foe and rid his father of the rebels. During his intense fght with Hotspur, Falstaff enters and cheers Harry on yet simultaneously, The Douglas enters and begins to fight Falstaff. Acting fearfully, Falstaff falls to the ground as The Douglas strikes him and Falstaff decides to plays dead instead of fighting. As Harry finally kills Hotspur, he has a moment of tenderness towards his foe who dies giving his last valiant speech.
Harry admires Hotspur, acknowledging that “the earth that bears thee dead, bears not alive so stout a gentleman. ” (Scene 5. 4) These remarks revealed how even though Harry and Hotspur were enemies, Harry believed Hotspur to be a gentlemen worthy of praise and recognition as he mourned his death. After Harry makes his soulful speech to the dead Hotspur, he sees Falstaff lying on the floor, presumably dead, and goes over to him.
Although Falstaff could have Jumped up and told Harry that he is alive, he remained “dead” perhaps to see what type of eulogy Harry would give him or erhaps to further his own personal agenda. For earlier in battle Harry asked Falstaff for his sword and was denied presumably on the basis that Falstaff felt he needed to protect himself, or perhaps for some other sinister motive. Similarly in this scene as Falstaff pretends to be dead, the audience is reminded of his zeal for survival and are also reminded that there maybe possible ulterior motives for his outlandish display of cowardice.
With previous evidence of dastardly behavior along with him now playing dead, it is assumed by the audience that Harry knew Falstaff was faking his death. There is upporting evidence given in his sarcastic eulogy to Falstaff such as, “Could not all this flesh keep in a little life? Poor Jack, farewell! ” (Scene 5. 4 P. 410) Shakespeare uses Harrys eulogy to Falstaff as a comic relief to follow the dramatic death of Hotspur as he further cries out that there should have been a better man than Falstaff spared from death.
As he vows to bury and embalm Falstaff and departs quickly to retrieve his younger brother, John of Lancaster. Falstaff suddenly awakens at Harrys departure announcing in an soliloquy that he will take claim for slaying Hotspur and continues o stab Hotspur in his thigh. He then reveals his motives being the rightful claim to the glory, reward and honor that will be given for killing the rival of the kingdom. As Falstaff commences his soliloquy he begins to pickup Hotspur and throw him over his shoulder presumably to go forth and claim his rewards.
Falstaff contradicts himself now as he shows his determination for honor and wealth which opposes his earlier speeches of honor being nothing more than a word its inherent meaninglessness. Through dishonorable means Falstaff aims to become honored, oble and rich when he returns showing he killed Hotspur himself even though he would be stealing the glory away from Harry in the process. Anotner plvotal moment occurs as Harry returns witn nls Drotner Jonn ana sees Falstaff walking off with Hotspur over his shoulder.
It seems at this point he was aware of Falstaff faking his death yet his motives for carrying Hotspur off are still unclear to Harry. Upon questioning Falstaff reveals his claim to have killed Hotspur in Harrys absence further demanding to be rewarded. Harry understanding the mind of a thief, attempts to challenge Falstaff and expose is lies when he says “why percy i killed myself and saw thee dead”(Scene5. 4 P. 410) In response, Falstaff accuses Harry of lying as he himself tells a lie swearing that Hotspur Jumped back up and that he had to fight and kill him.
Afterwards he lists his options for his reward naming that either an earl or duke would suffice for his labors in killing Hotspur. As Falstaffs story and demands commence, John of Lancaster is confused as even he suspects the validity of Falstaffs words and Harry quickly bids him to depart. Harry turns to Falstaff and then says “if a lie may do thee grace, I’ll gild it with the appiest of terms I have. ” (Scene5. 4 P. 410) Seemingly, Harry is already set to rid himself of his friends as he exercises his noble duties it seem perfect to pay Falstaff to leave happily and with some merit.
Adjacently, Falstaff is misleading in his earlier assertions where he stated he did not need honor, fame or glory, and his Jealousy is now showing as he obviously feels the need to be treated with honor and glory as Harry will. This lie challenged the relationship between him and Harry, as his criminal behavior is tolerated by Harry, it is apparent that Harry feels resentful about his lies. Another exemplification of their ending friendship is seen as the retreat horns are sounded and Harry and John eagerly depart to see what other friends of theirs are alive or dead.
As Harry exits the scene with his younger brother John without Falstaff, it becomes clear that John is now the favor of Harry instead of Falstaff. The symbolic representation of Harry leaving behind his old friend displays the change in Falstaff and Harrys relationship. It seems that Harry is changing his choice in company, from the bad John or Falstaff to the good John of Lancaster. In this decision of leaving Falstaff behind it is clear that due to Harrys new found honor and pride he cannot continue to keep the company of a manipulator like Falstaff.
Harry is more aware of the dangers that Falstaff is capable of, displayed by his lies of killing Hotspur, and leaves Falstaff behind both physically and metaphorically. Furthermore, Falstaffs hypocritical drive for honor and fame becomes central to Harrys decision to rid himself of his old friends and their ways. As it were Harry also had decided to rid himself of his unworthy company and return to nobility xhibiting the sinister plot Harry already had to lead Falstaff and others behind.
As play ends it is clear that the dynamic of the relationship between Harry and Falstaff has dramatically changed. Falstaff went from being Harrys entertainment and refuge to now being an obstacle in the way of true nobility and honor. As Falstaff chooses to take further advantage of Harry by taking claim for the death of Hotspur; he decisively chooses also to loose the favor of Harry in the process. Hal seems to be annoyed now by Falstaff dishonesty and seems set to rid himself of this burdening and parasitic friendship in the future.