Henry IV part one: How Do Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff Regard Honor?

Essay by jimbof3High School, 10th grade November 2002

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How Do Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff Regard Honor?

"It was just him and me. He fought with honor. If it weren't for his honor, he and the others would have beaten me together. They might have killed me, then. His sense of honor saved my life. I didn't fight with honor... I fought to win." In I Henry IV, William Shakespeare agrees with Orson Scott Card that one may fight smarter when they only have to defend their life. Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff are three characters who have different ideas for gaining honor. Their search remains for great respect, brought on by special merit. These three men all think honor is important for respect and power, but the question remains: what sacrifices and risks on the battlefield are they willing to take to find it?

Hotspur views honor as something he wants and will risk much for honor's sake. Sharing his thoughts with his father and uncle, Hotspur explains his search for honor as something very easy for an honorable person like him to find:

"By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap

To pluck bright honor from the pale faced moon,

Or dive into the bottom of the deep,

Where fathom line could never touch the ground,

And pluck up the drowned honor by the locks,

So he that doth redeem her thence might wear

Without corrival all her dignities."


Hotspur believes it is easy for him to gain honor because he is brave enough to outperform other men in battle on the judgement field.

Throughout the play, Hal, the heir to the English throne, doesn't care about honor or anything except his enjoyment: "I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the north, he that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots at...