An analysis of the character of falstaff in king henry iv by william shakespeare

Sir John Falstaff He [Falstaff] is a man at once young and old, enterprising and fat, a dupe and a wit, harmless and wicked, weak in principle and resolute by constitution, cowardly in appearance and brave in reality, a knave without malice, a liar without deceit, and a knight, a gentleman, and a soldier without either dignity, decency, or honour. This is a character which, though it may be decompounded, could not, I believe, have been formed, nor the ingredients of it duly mingled, upon any receipt whatever.

An analysis of the character of falstaff in king henry iv by william shakespeare

Contemplations of a Southern Lady William Shakespeare had a genius for forging memorable characters. Shylock, Portia, and Robin Goodfellow.

From the SparkNotes Blog

From the histories, names which were famous or infamous in life: Each of these names carries with it the brilliance of Shakespeare's characterization, and beauty of his poetry, the eloquence of his prose, and the splendor of his plots.

However, there is one character that stands entirely alone in this star-studded sphere of Shakespearean celebrity. His name is Sir John Falstaff. This very fact renders Falstaff the only Shakespearean character that transcends a particular sphere of action.

He starts out life in the histories, as Prince Hal's comedic cohort in Henry IV, Part I, but he moves, with remarkable ease, beyond this sphere into the realms of comedy, romance, and tragedy.

In truth, Falstaff is perhaps the most "well-rounded" of Shakespeare's characters - in more ways than one. He cannot be placed into a single dramatic category because he is not merely comedy, vice, or tragedy, but he is in part all of these - amazingly dynamic and human.

These aspects of Falstaff's character may best be seen through a look at his overt comedic antics - analyzing the subtle personality traits buried beneath. Falstaff is most often categorized as merely a comic character - introduced as the traditional humorous relief to the otherwise weighty plot of succession and familial strife in Henry IV, Part I.

Blog Archive

This is most certainly true. The Fat Knight does indeed spend " However, this generalization is far too small an idea to contain him.

In truth, Falstaff is much more than a mere carousing, comedic fool. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can't go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left" Wilde Ironically, Shakespeare's plays are absolutely littered with paradoxically clever fools - from Feste in Twelfth Night, to Lancelot in The Merchant of Venice, to Prince Hamlet himself who plays the fool for his own purposes.

Falstaff belongs to this category of clever fools. David Ellis makes this point about Falstaff, saying: It is this self-same intelligent wit that distinguishes Falstaff from the generic revelers in his posse - Bardolph, Peto, Pistol, and Poins.

It is true that he turns every situation and almost every statement made to him into a joke, but these jokes are not brainless. There is method to his madness. In one sense, Falstaff's jests are used to gloss over and sugar-coat his misdeeds - for Old Jack is as much a representation of Vice and temptation as he is the embodiment of comedy.

He is a thief, a drunkard, a frequenter of "bawdy houses," and a compulsive liar. Of course, Prince Hal makes it obvious from his first soliloquy that he is merely using his Eastcheap tavern friends - like the sun hiding behind a rack of clouds - to make himself seem more illustrious when he casts them aside and ascends to the throne 1.

When, then, if Old Jack is such a personification of sin, is he also so endearing - to audiences and princes alike? It is a question posed by men down the centuries, and it even plagued the esteemed Samuel Johnson, who could hardly reconcile his own liking of Falstaff with his hatred of the knight's vice.

Of Old Jack, he writes: Thou compound of sense and vice; of sense which may be admired but not esteemed, of vice which may be despised, but hardly detested.

Falstaff is a character loaded with faults, and with those faults which naturally produce contempt. He is a thief, and a glutton, a coward, and a boaster, always ready to cheat the weak, and prey upon the poor; to terrify the timorous and insult the defenceless.

At once obsequious and malignant, he satirises in their absence those whom he lives by flattering Yet the man thus corrupt, thus despicable, makes himself necessary to the prince that despises him, by the most pleasing of all qualities, perpetual gaiety, by an unfailing power of exciting laughter It must be observed that he is stained with no enormous or sanguinary crimes, so that his licentiousness is not so offensive but that it may be borne for his mirth" Johnson In the same vein, William Richardson goes so far as to term Falstaff: However, neither Johnson nor Richardson can escape Falstaff's magnetism.Feb 17,  · Falstaff is a character loaded with faults, and with those faults which naturally produce contempt.

He is a thief, and a glutton, a coward, and a boaster, always ready to cheat the weak, and prey upon the poor; to terrify the timorous and insult the defenceless.

Shakespeare, William. “1 Henry IV.” A Character Analysis of. William Shakespeare's play ''Henry IV'' tells the story of one young prince's transformation from a wasteful youth to an honorable and heroic king in the midst of an English civil war.

Note: 1 Henry IV has two main plots that intersect in a dramatic battle at the end of the play. The first plot concerns King Henry IV, his son, Prince Harry, and their strained relationship. The second concerns a rebellion that is being plotted against King Henry by a discontented family of noblemen.

King Henry IV, Part I Characters Analysis features noted Shakespeare scholar William Hazlitt's famous critical essay about the characters of King Henry IV, Part I.. IF Shakespear's fondness for the ludicrous some-times led to faults in his tragedies (which was not often the case) he has made us amends by the character of Falstaff.

An analysis of the character of falstaff in king henry iv by william shakespeare

Sir John Falstaff. BACK; NEXT ; Character Analysis. Falstaff is an old, fat, disgraced knight and Prince Hal's partner in crime. Always looking for a good time, Falstaff eats, drinks, steals, trash talks, and celebrates his way through life – in between naps, of course. King Henry IV The ruler of England and father to Prince Hal and Prince John, King Henry is a considerate and peace-loving monarch who works very hard to spare his subjects bloodshed by doing everything he can to negotiate peace with the rebels before the Battle of Shrewsbury.

Sweet Tea: A Character Analysis of Sir John Falstaff