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King Henry IV Part One: Act V Scene I exegesis

            Honor is a fundamental idea explored throughout the play. Each major character has his own thoughts on what honor actually is and its worth. In act V, scene I, we are given insight into King Henry's, Falstaff's and Hal's contrasting opinions of this abstract concept.
             The scene begins with messengers coming to address the King. The messenger goes on at length revealing the rebels" discontent with the King. The King proceeds to dismiss these accusations at which point Hal suggests an alternate solution: he proposes a single duel with Hotspur to end the rebellion.
             I am content that he shall take the odds.
             Of his great name and estimation,.
             And will, to save the blood on either side,.
             Try fortune with him in a single fight.
             Up to this point Hal seemed content with stealing, cheating and lying. He was not bothered by these actions because he believed that honor could be attained at a whim. Although he predicted that he would redeem himself, he only showed proof of this in this scene. .
             It is interesting how Hal holds Hotspur in such high esteem. To a great extent Hal admires the qualities that Hotspur possesses and ultimately knows that he must try to become more like Hotspur. Like most people, Hal thinks that there lies much honor in Hotspur:.
             The Prince of Whales doth join with all the world.
             In praise of Henry Percy.
             I do not think a braver gentleman,.
             More active valiant, [ ] is now alive.
             Hal realizes that as of late he has been lacking honor, "For my part, I may speak it to my shame / I have a truant been to chivalry" (5,1,94-95), and believes that by defeating Hotspur, Hotspur's honor will become his own.
             After all the other characters, including Hal, have gone, Falstaff presents a monologue which gives much insight into his character and views of honor.
             Falstaff drinks, eats, lies, cheats, and steals for the enjoyment of it. Honor does Falstaff no good. He musses that, in fact, honor does no good at all except to give good names to the dead and decorate coffins, "Honor is a mere scutcheon" (5,1,141).

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