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September 28, 2023, 04:48:54 pm

Author Topic: Module B King Henry IV part 1 Feedback  (Read 304 times)

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Module B King Henry IV part 1 Feedback
« on: July 12, 2022, 10:44:16 am »
If someone could help me proof read my essay and suggest some improvements, I would really appreciate it.
So the question was:

“O that it could be proved; that some night tripping fairy had exchanged; In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,”

What role does family play in Shakespeare’s Historical Play of King Henry IV pt 1?

My answer:

Families play important roles political and societal matters. Shakespeare’s play King Henry IV part 1 explores various family relationships and the direct and indirect impacts those relationships have on important affairs. The play not only acted as an instrument for Shakespeare to challenge some of his society’s contemporary beliefs and traditions but also a medium for him to present some realities about family. In this essay, we will dive into how the play shows that family does not always equate good, the fact our family often impacts our political alliances and the potential benefit women can play in our societies if we let go of traditional stereotypes.

Family cannot be relied upon at all times. Shakespeare’s primogenic society positions the existence of a male heir to the throne as a symbol of high status for he shall be the vehicle to carry the King’s legacy. Queen Elizabeth’s lack of a heir meant that she was perceived by some in the society as an inferior ruler compared to her predecessors. Shakespeare, however, challenges this patriarchal tradition through the father-son relationships in his play King Henry IV part 1.  King Henry’s wish in act 1 scene 1 that “some night tripping fairy had exchanged”  his son with Hotspur references Elizabethan folk culture and magic and sets the stage for his relationship with Hal. Despite being of “princely blood” (act 3 scene 2), Hal’s rebellious ways meant that he brought shame rather than honour to his Father’s noble reputation, which was made evident when the King laments that perhaps Hal’s birth was God’s way of  breeding “revengement and a scourge”  (act 3 scene 2) for him. Shakespearian society also had the tradition of venerating blood relationships yet the play suggest that perhaps it can lead one’s downfall. The very men for which Hotspur initiated the rebellion seeking to protect their family’s honour were the same men who let him down and ultimately costed him his life. The absence of Northumberland for the battle destabilized the army and was rightly metaphorized as a “limb lopped off!” (act 4 scene 1)  while Worcester’s decision to withhold the King’s offer stemmed from a selfish intention to protect his own life at the eventual cost of his nephew’s. The father-son relationships presented in the play persuades Shakespeare’s audience that the Queen’s lack of heir does not degrade her in anyway and teaches us that family are not always reliable.

Family loyalty often decide political alliances. Shakespeare shows in his play King Henry IV part 1 that ultimately, the civil rebellion is just a family affair. Mortimer’s marriage to Glendower’s daughter made him a traitor in the King’s eyes and explains why he decided its not worth “buying treason” to “redeem a traitor home” (Act 1 scene 3). This mirrors Shakespeare’s society’s fear that had Queen Elizabeth married a foreign man of royal blood, the patriarchal nature of the society would mean that the England would have to surrender to them. The relationship between Falstaff and Hal was that of surrogate father and son. Hal’s loyalty to Falstaff which was demonstrated when he protected him from the sheriff; “The man, I do assure you is not here” (act 2 scene 4) is actually confirming his disloyalty to the king. Here, Shakespeare is informing us that Prince Hal’s teenage rebellion is just as dangerous as the civil rebellion for his political goals at that time, reflected in his relationship to Falstaff, were against that of the King’s. This message perhaps, could have been Shakespeare’s way of justifying Queen Elizabeth’s imprisonment of her sister Mary before ordering her death for her alliance to the Catholic church meant that she was politically against Queen. So, Shakespeare shows that who we make family often implicitly decides our political alliances and vice versa.

Women can play important roles in politics. Shakespeare’s play explores his society’s notion on role of gender and sexuality through the relationships between husband and wives. The highly patriarchal nature of Elizabethan society’s assumptions of femininity meant that the Queen was viewed as an incapable leader and thus unfit to rule by many. These prejudices were represented and challenged in King Henry IV part 1. Hotspur’s statement to his wife that “I know you wise, but yet no farther wise Than Harry Percy’s wife” (act 1 scene 3) reflects the belief in that society that women were seen as not only physically inferior to their male counterparts, but also intellectually. However, Kate’s refusal to sing for Hotspur to the welsh shows that women can be powerful, as her husband was attempting to use her as a means to one-up another man. Shakespeare’s portrayal of women in the play also suggests to us that men felt that their wives were often obstacles to them achieving their goals and ambitions. We see this in hotspur’s not trusting his wife with secrets of the rebellion merely due to her gender. His comparison of Glendower’s talkativeness with “a railing wife” (act 3 scene 1) further tells us that the men often view their women as annoying and troublesome. Yet, the play in its entirety puts forward a subverting question: Had Hotspur & Mortimer listened to their wives, would the rebels have lost their lives in a pointless battle? Ultimately, Shakespeare is stating that gender plays no role in one’s capacity as a leader and that in fact, women are perfectly capable of competing with men intellectually. The reign of Queen Elizabeth now serves as a testament to this fact.   
To conclude, the family relationships presented in King Henry IV part 1 reminds us that family members do not always meet up to our expectations. It informs us the reality that who we take as family can stamp our side on a political issue. Finally, it  showed us that the false gender stereotypes really only harm us as a society and it has not effect on the quality of a leader.
// End of Essay

I do wanna say that I'm someone who's brain is more geared towards STEM subjects so I've really found writing essays in English quite challenging. Right now I've noticed that I am not sure how to incorporate and link the language techniques of my quotes to the analysis in a cohesive way so this essay reflects that.