In the first dialogue between Falstaff and the prince, we see a lot of sexual innuendos been used, “hot wench in flame coloured taffeta,” and also when Falstaff attempts to divert the conversation in Act one Scene two, he comments that the, “hostess of the tavern… most sweet wench” obviously Falstaff suffers from sexual laxity. Falstaff is a boaster, he boasted and exaggerated about the robbery at Gadshill, in the tavern Falstaff boasts that he would cudgel Hal if he said that the ring was made of copper, when in actual fact, Falstaff had to backtrack his threats as soon as Poins and Hal cane in.
Also he boasts about about his own doings in the battle, “I have paid Percy, I have made him sure” while Percy was still alive and well. Indeed, when he realizes that Percy is alive, he vows that he will, “pierce him”. Falstaff is hypocritical; he complains that, “a plague upon it when thieves cannot be true to each other,” yet when it comes to handing out the robbery’s gains, he is quite happy to miss out on Hal and Poins for a share of the booty.
Falstaff is weak willed as well, when he says that he will reform, he never does, in the end of the play Falstaff promises to, “purge and leave sack, and live cleanly as a nobleman should do”. It is another of his repeated claims of promises. Hal and Percy holds honour but Falstaff on the other hand seems to have no honour at all except what he himself fabricates, and ironically, his flexibility and relative ethics keep him alive. Falstaff shows himself to be a conniving, thieving rogue and not even particularly successful at the low pursuits he attempts.
He, unlike Percy, dishonourably feigns death in battle and so escapes a fatal wound from Douglas. Shakespeare clearly wanted the audience to see the contrast when the two bodies are laid side by side in Act five Scene four, the climax of the play–one living by a harsh code of honour and dead, the other a Machiavellian cheat and very much alive. Falstaff is as venal and craven as Hotspur is proud and unyielding. Falstaff reduces honour from a high chivalric concept to a useless item. “Can honour set to a leg? No… honour is a mere scutcheon” Falstaff’s idea of honour is directly linked to his sense of time itself.
In the opening lines of his speech, Falstaff says, “‘Tis not due yet: I would be loath to pay him before his day. ” In this example, God is being related by Falstaff to someone who has set a schedule determining the time and place of everyone’s death. For Falstaff, one’s role in life is not to stray from the path created by that higher power. The notion of honour, as he later describes in this speech, is a belief through which one can transgress that natural order. He says, “Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? ” In order for one to gain honour, one must risk one’s life.
This type of gambling is not for Falstaff, as he decides that his own life is more important than, “A word. ” Through his speech, Falstaff places himself firmly out of any moral world concerned with justice or honour, instead living for no other reason than life itself. He serves as an emblem of frivolity and carelessness within a world filled with social and political significance. Falstaff scorns the world of politics and moral decisions in favour of existing from moment to moment. Falstaff has a number of functions in Henry IV, the most obvious as a clownish figure providing comic relief.
His many lies and exaggerations entertain because of the wit and cleverness he employs to save himself from paying debts and answering for crimes. He in many ways represents a layman-a sinner with little shame or honour, who nonetheless maintains at least an outward concern for honour and appearances. “If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked! If to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damn’d. . .. (Banish the others) but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff . .
Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world. ” Clearly, Falstaff hopes to exculpate himself by arguing that his sins are no worse than everyone else’s. He refuses to take life seriously. He believes that war is as much of a joke to him as drinking at the Boar’s Head; indeed he brings his sack to the battle. He uses people solely for his own purposes, either for money or for food and drink. He is rude and crude to all those around him and is one of the best liars who continually gets caught in his lies but makes new ones to cover for the old failed ones.
His presence of mind and quickness of rejoinder are always superb; his impudence is almost transcendent. “Sirrah, do I owe you a thousand pound? /A thousand pounds Hal? A million, thy love is worth a million, thou owest me thy love. ” Yet the man thus corrupt, thus despicable, makes himself necessary to the prince that despises him, by the most pleasing of all qualities, perpetual gaiety. Falstaff creates around his presence a sort of Utopia, which frees us temporarily from the worries, and troubles of the actual world and we can listen to the thoughts that we secretly have had, but stored in the backs of our mind.
It does not matter if Falstaff jokes about bravery and valour, it is merely the thoughts of a comic creation designed to fill the theatre. When at the end of the Boar’s Head Tavern scene, when the viewer learns that the Sheriff is outside looking for the robbers, Prince Hal defends the fat knight. However, we find Falstaff soundly asleep behind an array. This scene shows how he was created for comic relief in the play. Yet the reader sees the Falstaff that was moments ago alive and energetic, now soundly asleep and we wait for the Falstaff to wake up because we have grown an attachment to him.
We want him to humour us once again, to inspire us with his famous wit Up to certain point Falstaff is merely an object of pure entertainment. His character is present chiefly for the humour that arises by showcasing his ludicrous persona. Besides laughing at Falstaff, we are made happy by him and laugh with him. However there is an ugly side of Falstaff, but we overlook it in light of his great humour and the fact that compared to the other characters he generally doesn’t do much damage.