In Henry IV Part One, first impressions are never correct. By the end of the play, we have been forced to re-assess our feelings about the main characters. Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement. The main characters definitely appear to change throughout the play and their true selves emerge by the end. The first character on stage is the King; we first see him addressing the court about what has happened since he became King. He is a very powerful man and decides the way to ‘win the hearts’ of his country is to go on a crusade to the Holy Land.
His country has turned to civil war due to his indirect path to the throne. His attitude towards Hal is anything but fatherly. He considers Hal to be unworthy of inheriting the throne because Falstaff’s influence has made him rebellious and irresponsible, unable to handle tasks a King has to carry out. The King would rather have Percy (Hotspur) as his son than Hal. He sees Hotspur as a worthier heir to the throne-Henry believes they were swapped as babies by ‘some night-tripping fairy’.
I feel this is quite heartless towards his own son, as he obviously shows no compassion for him. Hal would never have had to contemplate being heir to the throne if Henry hadn’t made an unlawful path to the throne so it is expected that Hal would not be the ‘perfect heir’. By Act III, Sc. III Henry states that he needs his own son, Hal, to take over the throne, A hundred thousand rebels die in this: Thou shalt have change and sovereign trust herein. He has forgiven Hal for all his immature behaviour with Falstaff and wants him to be the heir to the throne when he dies.
I think this is very touching as he finally realises that Hal can be responsible enough to take over the throne, after he changes into a more mature person-someone able to deal with kingly responsibilities. Hal is a very rebellious and immature in the beginning of the play; led astray from royalty by Falstaff. Hal would have been new to the idea of being an heir as Henry wasn’t the meant to be the next heir after Richard, but he usurped the crown-making Hal the heir to the throne.
Hal has a very close relationship with his friend Falstaff-almost like a father/son bond between them, but Falstaff is a bad influence upon Hal; he steals, drinks and is untrustworthy. Hal admires Falstaff and has more respect for him than for his own father. This is shown in Act II, Sc. IV. Hal and Falstaff continue to mock the king by impersonating him: Thou art violently carried away from grace: there is A devil haunts the in the likeness of an old fat man Each of them impersonates the king and Hal- mocking him for being so strict and self-righteous.
This adds humour to a very serious play about war and you get to see how other characters view the king as a person. I believe they find him too serious and quite uptight about a lot of issues-including that he thinks his son is irresponsible. I like how Shakespeare includes humour to lighten the seriousness of the play-it keeps the audience interested so that the length of the play is not so much to digest. In Act V, Sc. IV Hal kills Hotspur in a bloody battle and exits from the stage. Falstaff enters the battle and tells Hal that he has killed Hotspur.
Hal lets Falstaff take the credit for killing Hotspur, I think this is because Hal wants the court and King to see that Falstaff can be mature and responsible. The King then believes Falstaff can be a fighter and useful to the country-so he then forgives Falstaff for his ways. He also forgives Hal and I think Hal is very grateful to be accepted again by his father. My first impressions of Falstaff are that he is a very witty, self-interested man. He is the character created to bring comedy to the play when it is so strongly themed around war.
He likes to have fun by twisting people’s words and is a thieving, drunken bad influence upon Hal. He has a very close relationship with Hal even though he has such a bad effect on him. The King despises Falstaff because he is corrupting the young, immature mind of the heir to the throne, making Hal an unworthy choice to be next King. The first time he appears on stage he is with prince Hal talking about a robbery at nearby Gadshill, which he manages to persuade Hal to participate in.