Heated in the Spur of the Moment

In Act 3 for Henry the Fourth, Hotspur reveals a different side of his character than what we can observe at first. Originally we know of him as someone ideal for the role of leadership, a man who has the outstanding ability to outmaneuver most in his military regime. However, when he is seen in closer contact with those whose loyalty and companionship he requires, he is unable to connect in a proper way. Even the coining of his name represents how Shakespeare is playing around with his audience, when Hotspur can mean only that he is someone who is “hot” tempered in the “spur of the moment”without any rational reasoning behind it.

When Hotspur argues with one of his allies, Glendower, he explains to Lord Mortimer his justification for quarreling with him because he would,”rather live / With cheese and garlic in a windmill, far, / Than feed on cates and have him talk to me” (865) only for the reason that Glendower did not think like him about changing the course of the river to his liking. He asserts that Glendower is a mystical person and therefore not worthy of his friendship. What Hotspur fails to realize is that Glendower is a valuable asset to his campaign as is any help in the position that Hotspur is in (as a rebel) and that in the long run his pride and his assumptions of Glendower are miniscule compared to the benefit he could get by putting up with Glendower. Hotspur lacks the ability to be diplomatic and therefore his worthiness to hold a role of kingship is questioned. One would think to be an ideal king in his society, you must have some sense of manipulation and diplomacy as well as the ability to suck up your pride when it comes to the well-being of his country and its people.

Hotspur’s immatureness in his dealings with Glendower are a striking difference from his keen sense of military conduct and the bravery he displays in the battlefield so much so that King Henry wishes that it was Hotspur that was his son and not Prince Harry. Nevertheless, Prince Harry surpasses Hotspur where he lacks in “kingly” characteristics.


2 thoughts on “Heated in the Spur of the Moment

  1. Darya

    I agree with this idea of Hotspur being misunderstood, or rather, mistaken for someone else. Shakespeare tends to play around with names in order to forshadow the character's true nature or destiny. Same with Harry's name, as was mentioned in class earlier, where his name could hint at being the next "heir."

  2. Jade Asta

    I love that you brought up how Hotspur can't make the connection he needs with the people he needs loyalty and help from. I think it is amusing how Hotspur's attitude is seen in his conference with he peers, especially Glendower. He crack jokes, is rude, and generally too cocky to listen to anyone or for anyone else to take his seriously. Even when hatching the plan to overthrow Henry IV, he is too eager to act and talk about his own anger that no one else can get a word in.


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