Shakespeare successfully establishes the nature of honour in his historical living production Henry IV Part 1. The play embarks around the subject of honorable rebellion, primarily through the duality of the two characters of Prince Harry (Hal) and King Henry IV as well as Hotspur and Falstaff. Through different concepts of the major universal theme of honour displayed by various protagonists, the interrelated ideas of power and responsibility are also made evident. As this play unfolds, the importance of the soliloquy’s, issues and conflicts are highlighted. Honour is encapsulated from success on the battlefield to dealing with noble and respectable behaviour. Shakespeare captures the essence of a historical tragedy and formulates a lesson on the key principle of Honour, Power and Responsibility. (Act 1 Scene 1) Honour is a reflection of an individual’s personality and conscience. This universal theme unfolds from the perspective of various characters. The idea of honour ranges from being parallel with an individual's courage on the battlefield to a mere "word" used in an attempt to elevate the physical horrors of conflict to something more lofty and elusive. From Henry IV Part 1's opening, Hotspur is praised as the very embodiment of honour because of his military ability, while Prince Hal is marked by the "stain" of "dishonour" revealing Hotspur to seem more like a “prince”. This allows the play to consider the kind of behaviour that makes one a good leader and a strong king. In this way, honour is evident to be closely linked with "Power." Honour as well as Power are necessary attributes for all successful leaders and monarchs; a thin concept that men use in a useless attempt to elevate the horrible reality of warfare to something moral. Hotspur’s courage on the battlefield is seen to have two interrelated meanings. According to King Henry, Hotspur’s courageous actions to capture the prisoners are seen as ‘honourable’. Another way that...
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