Honor In King Henry IV

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Since part one of Shakespeare’s, King Henry IV, it is quite evident that even though prince Hal tends to undervalue honor, he understands the role of honor in his life. In Henry IV, Shakespeare depicts a young Hal who is ridiculed because his private life is less honorable than it should be, which affects how people view him publicly, but in Act 3, Scene 2 of Henry IV Part 1, Hal promises his father that he will change, and it is evident that prince Hal is able to control his behavior for the public. Therefore, it is not too surprising that in Henry V, King Hal shows different private and public behaviors. In Act IV, Scene 1 of Henry V, Hal is privately disdainful and suspicious of the advantages of the honor that comes with kingship, while…show more content…
In this scene, King Hal’s men are fearful towards the notion of fighting the French; they are severely outnumbered and Westmoreland proclaims that he wishes they had more men fight with them on their side. However, King Hal explains why is it actually more advantageous that they have fewer men in his riveting “Saint Crispin’s Day Speech.” The entire basis of Hal’s Crispin’s Day speech relies on his apparent high regard for honor; he promises his men that their smaller numbers will mean that, when they win, the honor which each man receives will be greater than if they had more fighters. Publically, King Hal appears cocky and assured of himself, stating, “if it be a sin to covet honor,/ I am the most offending soul alive,” (IV, 3, 29-30). Hal is clearly self-aware of the adulation that he receives as king and takes advantage of this to rally his men. Furthermore, even if their army loses to the French he promises his men the honor of dying next to a king. “We would not die in that man’s company/ That fears his fellowship to die with us,” (IV, 3, 39-40). Hal is truly a wordsmith, somehow turning death itself into a prize, wherein dying alongside a king is a prize that a more cowardly man does not deserve. This public side of Hal is quite different from his private musings
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