I grant you I was down, and out of breath, and so was he; but we both rose at an instant, and fought for a long hour by Shrewsbury clock. (152-4, V, iv) What it more preposterous is that when Hal claims to the king that it was he that had killed Hotspur, Falstaff comes out with a comment that is pure irony, saying “Lord, Lord. How this world is given to lying. ” Eventually Hal accepts that he cannot persuade the king otherwise and leaves it at that.
There is no honour whatsoever in any of his acts and this proves that what statements he made in his speech were true and he stands by them, even though they make him less of a man. The lack of shame shown by Falstaff underlines that he does not care about honour and for him it plays not part in life. In this way at least he could perhaps be forgiven as he has stated that honour is, for him, not important in life and has no meaning. In this context he cannot be said as having no honour at all because he does not believe in the word, but by other’s standards he could be labelled as such.
Prince Hal is an interesting character to include, as he seems to go from both ends of the spectrum throughout the play. At first he is seen as Falstaff’s friend and drinking partner, simply a lowly drop out from the royal family rebelling against his father’s wishes. However in his own soliloquy he makes a pledge that once the crown beckons to become his he will change his ways and make his father proud of him once again. He compares himself to the sun, as a person that will be ‘breaking through the foul and ugly mists of vapours that did strangle him’.
He makes a promise and, like a honourable person would, keeps it to the letter. He battles with Hotspur and proves to his father that he is the prodigal son, completely changed and ready for the crown of England. What is also noticeable is that the Prince has occasion to talk in rhyme in early parts of the play whereas Falstaff is always in prose. This shows some kind of other character that Hal has as when in rhyme and being poetic it is seen in plays as having more strength and weight with the words.
Falstaff never seems to do this and may account for why he is so scheming and dastardly throughout, never wanting to change his ways for anything. As well as keeping his promise and redeeming his ways, Hal pays tribute to Hotspur both before they do battle and after he dies. This shows he, as well as being noble on the battlefield, also has respect for others and can bring himself down to such a level whereas he will listen to others and pay them respect where it is earned and deserved. He says of Hotspur beforehand: The Prince of Wales (Hal) doth join with the entire world
In praise of Henry Percy. By my hopes- This present enterprise set off his head- I do not think a braver gentleman, More active-valiant, or more valiant-young, More daring or more bold, is now alive To grace this latter age with noble deeds. (88-94, V, i) This shows his respect for Hotspur before they do battle. Immediately afterwards he then states another apology saying that he knows he has been off the track in the past, a little wayward and not acting as he should, but he wishes to put that right with this deed and with what is to come.
He could therefore been seen as the most honourable person in the play as he can accept his wrong doings, keeps his promises and even pays tribute to his enemy at the time. Although Hal does not condone the action Hotspur is undertaking at this instant (‘this enterprise set off his head) he still has respect for what he has achieved in the past. After killing Hotspur, Hal gives a small tribute to the man and wishes him well in the afterlife.
This shows perhaps more honour than any other incident in the play as although he has killed the man and could do what he wishes from this moment, he stays true to what should be done and carries it out with dignity. It seems ironic that he gains so much honour from one mans death when he has led a whole life off of the righteous course, but this is part of the play and shows that one can always repent and come out of if stronger. The King is quite a misguided man and in history made many wrong decisions during his reign and found it hard to keep the country in order.
In his treatment of the rebels he seems to be a little dishonourable but they did commit the biggest offence in treason and perhaps deserved what was brought about. To summarise all the characters, Falstaff is a man who lacks honour but as he has never claimed to believe in the concept he has an excuse of sorts. He leads a life of theft and robbery but does suffer for it at a later time. Hotspur is a man of the battlefield, living and ultimately dying by the sword. He believes one can only gain honour by taking the difficult course in life and that he has done it better than most.
Prince Hal lived a wayward life but eventually got back into a position that could be seen as an ideal one and one that is a model for people to follow. He earned honour and kept onto it, becoming a fine king of England. All have different concepts of honour but there is a similarity in that whatever they pledge, they stick to. Hotspur preferred the battlefield, Falstaff preferred to not indulge in anything honourable at all and Hal preferred to earn it when the time was right. Neil Christie 11N Henry IV Part I Mr. Tobias.