Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Henry IV, Act IV, scene 2

Rebels and Courtiers, please comment on Act 4, scene 2. For detailed directions, read the Act 4, scene 1 post. When you finish commenting on this blog, go to Mr. Sale's class blog and post a comment to someone in that class.

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18 Comments:

Blogger MeganF said...

3. One question I have during this scene is has Falstaff changed? He begins talking about his men that he is going to lead to war as, "No eye hath seen 35 such scarecrows. I'll not march through Coventry with them, that's flat. Nay, and the villains march wide betwixt the legs as if they had gyves on, for indeed I had the most of them out of prison," (34-38). I wonder why he is judging them as such lowlifes out of prison when he himself commits acts that are jail-worthy and hangs around in a bar drunk all day. I do not understand why he speaks of them so horribly when he is one of them. Also, why are they dressed so poorly when they are from rich families, "I press me none but good householders, yeomen’s sons," (14-15). Maybe they aren't so ragged, but Falstaff's new sense of leadership is making him so prideful that he judges them? Has he changed from a care-free drunk to a worried leader? Or is he just stating the obvious that his men look horrible?

2:18 PM  
Blogger haley said...

3. I was just wondering why Falstaff recruits such a band of cowardly misfits for his army. He says of them, "I pressed me none but such toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins' heads, and they have bought out their services, and now my whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of companies—slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth, where the glutton's dogs licked his sores." Why would he want to lead these men into battle when they have never done anything courageous in their lives and would probably run at the first gun shot? It seems silly to me to hire such cowardly men when he is trying to help Hal and King Henry. I know that he is paid for getting men to fight, but why did he choose these men? Doesn't this automatically set Falstaff up for failure?

5:22 PM  
Blogger taliac said...

Haley-
I think that Falstaff chose these men because he can relate to them. He knows what it’s like to be in the company of someone greater than himself, (Prince Hal,) and wants to give these poor men another chance to become great. He knows that he picked the low-lifes, yet I think he did it on purpose to symbolize his own inner feelings and struggles. He wants to make a difference for Hal, who seems to have a made a slight difference in Falstaff. These men, his men, will contribute to a greater cause than he ever could.

11:20 PM  
Blogger miam said...

In response to Haley's and Talia's comments:

I personally think that Falstaff is not taking the matter seriously quite yet. While we saw Prince Hal make a surprising turn around in character, I think we see the same old Falstaff. He probably doesn't consider the reverberations of such a decision to hire the men he chose. If this is true, it wouldn't surprise me at all. However, Like Haley said he is most certainly setting himself up for failure

9:13 AM  
Blogger Betsy H said...

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11:17 AM  
Blogger Betsy H said...

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11:17 AM  
Blogger Betsy H said...

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11:17 AM  
Blogger Betsy H said...

3. I found it intriguing how throughout this scene, Flastaff is constantly talking about how he's supposedly not ashamed of his band of "soldiers." However, while describing them, he calls them "the cankers of a calm world and a long peace"(Line 27). He talks down on these men, when, in reality, he's kind of a low-life himself. His group is such a rag-tag group of misfits, but a drunk is leading them. Does Falstaff honestly think he is bette than all of his men? Also, when Henry says: "I did never see such pitiful rascals"(Line 58)Falstaff merely says they're good men to simply use and let die. They aren't good men, so it's not a big loss. Why, then, did Falstaff use this group to lead him in a war? Is he trying to make himself look like a better leader, in comparison to them?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah E. said...

5. Haley-

I think that Shakespeare deliberately chose this brand of army for Falstaff in order to cement the contrast between Falstaff and Prince Hal. Once again Falstaff has made a careless mistake in choosing these misfits for his army, further proving that his lifestyle will never change. As we discussed in class today, Falstaff's confidence in himself is actually a chracter flaw. His sinful boasting put him in the position of maintaining an army of cowards. Shakespeare uses this element of the plot to demonstrate the difference in a man who is willing to change, Hal, and a man who is too self-righteous to look forward and better himself. It is inevitable that Falstaff and his army will fail, thus proving that arrogance and pride are sinful qualities which lead to failure. Prince Hal's turn in character will allow him to become the most well liked King in England's history, thus Shakespeare is legitamizing history.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Aly A. said...

3. Is Falstaff trying to get killed? I'm wondering the same thing as everyone else, why did he pick such pathetic troops? It seems to me that his pride would be too great to lead an army of misfits "such as indeed were never soldiers, but discarded, unjust servingmen, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters, and ostlers tradefallen, the cankers of a calm world" (lines 25-257). This scene was not typical Falstaff. He was feeling badly for his troops, not joking around, and maybe even showing some remorse for taking advantage of his position and doing a bad job.

Falstaff is changing with Hal, and their relationship is not as fun and light hearted as it used to be. I kind of got the feeling that it was a little awkward between them because neither knew if they should joke around like old times or act respectable since now they are honorable men with many responsibilites. Is Falstaff finally maturing?

2:49 PM  
Blogger Jimmy N. said...

5. It is apparent in this scene that Falstaff's undying zest for life and boastful pride are beginning to dwindle into nothing. Throughout the play Falstaff has undergone everything he has faced with a smile and a bottle of sack. However, now, although he still has the sack, he no longer dones a smile upon his corpulent face. It seems that Falstaff is now on the road to self-destruction, and is hellbent on botching almost every task he is appointed. Aquiring decent soldiers, posing as an honorable captain, seem to be just some of the duties Falstaff is putting absolutely no effort into. Why does it seem like Falstaff is almost trying to fail as a captain? Why does it seem like he is so set upon destroying himself in spite of all the joy he once recieved from life?

3:56 PM  
Blogger DanaitA said...

# 6

In this scene it seems as though Hal and Falstaff's relationship is returning to how it was in the beginning. The fat jokes have seemed to return into their dialogue. For example Hal says, " No, I'll be sworn, unless you call three fingers in the ribs bare." Hal has gone back to making jokes about how fat Falstaff is, even in a time of war. I think that the motif of fat jokes throughout this play act as a way to portray the relationship between two people, mainly Hal and Falstaff. Whenever the two seem to be "buddy, buddy" they exchange fat jokes to one another. However when Hal had returned from talking with his father and decided to fulfill his princely duties the jokes ceased and their seemed to be a tension between the two.

7:31 PM  
Blogger JonathanH said...

Historically authors have often placed social commentary or statements about the societies they live in into their literature. What may Falstaff's corrupt leadership qualities say about vice? Also, in concern with the author, does Shakespeare include Falstaff's behavior as a statement about his own idea of his government's leadership? I'm not a history buff to say the least and I was wondering if anyone knows what the conditions of the british military
were like during the time that Shakespeare wrote Henry IV.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Nathan H said...

3. I also have questions about Falstaff in this scene. He appears to be so negligent and I can't understand why Hal put him in command in the first place. He's done absolutely nothing to prove his merit for such a position and when he is in the position, he's an terrible leader. He has no care for his men, describing them as "good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder." On top of that he's really late getting to his assignment. If Hal has truly changed, wouldn't he be more careful in choosing his captains?

8:32 PM  
Blogger Matt L said...

5. I found it very ironic that fat, vice-ridden Jack Falstaff is leading an army full of poor, skinny men. Falstaff acknowledges the glaring inconsistency when he says, "Faith, for their poverty, I know not where they had that, and/
for their bareness, I am sure they never learned that of me." Falstaff and his soldiers are foils of each other. Falstaff has grown so fat on greed and pleasure he can account for the avarices of an army of skinny men. Shakespeare says sinful men usually gain power. The skinny, innocent men are irrelevant to affairs because they will, “fill a pit as well as better (men).” To Shakespeare, power can only be gained through sin.

8:44 PM  
Blogger  said...

3. I think Falstaff is intriguingly different in this scene. He starts out by talking about his wimpy and weak army he collected for Hal. For one I don't recall ever hearing Falstaff say so much without boasting about himself and also staying on one topic, one actually of some importance. I was also interested by the way Falstaff addressed Westmoreland when he said, "I thought your honor/ had already been at Shrewsbury" (4.2.53-54). I didn't think Falstaff had that kind of respect for anyone but he seems sincere.If Falstaff cares about the war as much as Hal then is he as much as a static character as him? If he is, then how can Falstaff meet a tragic end and Hal become king?

8:54 PM  
Blogger EmilyW said...

Megan,
I think that Falstaff has grown a bit of an ego and thirst for power in his new position. He is one of them, and yet he does shut them down. It seems to me like Falstaff is abusing his power and insulting his ranks only because he can. Or perhaps does he have ulterior motives? Maybe he's doing this to get back at Hal. After all, Hal did appoint him this posistion, and he appointed it to him right after Falstaff was all in an uprage and talking badly about Hal because he was pickpocketted. Maybe his way of "getting back" at Hal is by acting this way, treating his men like this. Maybe our drunken old Falstaff actually is worth his salt.

Or, he could just be druken old Falstaff who is just tempted by the lust for power. Who knows? I think that Falstaff is such a rich character that it's hard to tell what he's thinking sometimes.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Megan M said...

3. I was very interested in this scene by Worcester's descruption of Hotspur: "My nephew's trespass may be well forgot;/It hath the excuse of youth and heat of blood,/And an adopted name of privilege—/A hairbrained Hotspur governed by a spleen:/All his offenses live upon my head/And on his father's" (lines 16-21). I don't really understand why Worcester believes that he and Hotspur's father will recieve all the blame for the fighting in general. Why would youth, heat, blood or a nickname cause any redemption for Hotspur in the king's eyes? It seems to me that most of the factors Worcester mentions to excuse Hotspur are more likely to condemn him; they are the character flaws we've been following for most of the book.

9:21 PM  

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