In many ways, the young Hotspur outshines his rival counterpart Hal. His presence dominates all of the scenes in which he appears, and as his follower, the fierce Douglas, puts it in Act IV, scene I, Hotspur is “the king of honour. ” It is through Hotspur, not Hal, that the poetic art of Shakespeare is most brilliantly realised in this play. An example of this surfaces in the very first scene in which Hotspur takes part, as he declares: By heavens, methinks it were an easy leap, To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon, Or dive into the bottom of the deep, Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks. At the same time and as his name implies, Hotspur is rash, so much so that his uncle Worcester refers to him as “hare-brained. ” By his own account, Hotspur is prone to imbalance, adopting an intensity of concentration that blinds him to the realities that block his ambitions. Turning against Bolingbroke, Hotspur proclaims: “All studies here I solemnly defy, Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke”. Hotspur is of such single-mindedness that he is willing to change the course of rivers to accomplish his ends as is shown in Act III, scene I.
In fact, his determination sets him against natural forces that are beyond his reach but that he nevertheless either tries to control or to deny. But there is even more to Hotspur than his volatile drive can capture. For one thing, Hotspur’s complaints against Bolingbroke seem justifiable, while his refusal to hand Mortimer over for execution is plainly admirable. As a rebel against the king, Hotspur is necessarily wrong in the eyes of Shakespeare and his audiences, but he is a rebel with a cause. He represents the rare Medieval, chivalrous knight of honour.
Shakespeare presents several scenes in which Hotspur acts in a totally different light as Lady Percy’s “sweet lord” who enjoys the show that Lady Mortimer and her husband provide. In conclusion, I find that there is very little difference between the young and the old in this play as certain young characters seem to mirror certain old characters in nature. For example, Bolingbroke communicates an equally explosive disposition as Hotspur, which is possibly due to the constant attachment to courtly life.
They both represent an utter blindness to a world outside of “sun-like majesty” and therefore are highly unlikely to reason in a worldlier manner. The same comparison can be made for Hal and Worcester. They both share astute and calculating mentalities that provide them the means to achieve their ends, whether that is through the manipulation of others. Hal has certainly seen a distinct side to life through his association with the Tavern, and because of that, he emerges a far knowledgeable person. He embodies the expectations of the renaissance sovereign, whereas in contrast Hotspur is too large for his times.
He is a more fully-rounded, complex figure that his name connotes but his heroic stature is too big for the world of the court and too relentlessly noble for the world of the tavern. Falstaff is a classification upon himself. He is both, and yet neither young nor old. He is a child trapped in the body of an ageing man, who seeks endless coddling. His unique relationship with Hal demonstrates his need for love distinct to his loveless lifestyle of petty-crime and tomfoolery. Though in his actions he is decadent and clearly manifests the seven deadly sins, he is also shown as nai?? ve, through his idolatry and affections for Hal.