Prince rebellious with another motive

Prince Harry is also known as Prince Hal in the play Henry IV. The fact that he has this nick name really adds to the fact that his character deviates from the role he is supposed to play. The name Hal is very personal, simplistic and laid back, unlike the nickname Hotspur for Henry Percy whose nickname suits him well. In the beginning of the play King Henry IV mentions that he wishes Hal and Henry Percy were switched at birth because Henry Percy has more potential and is more like a lead, whereas his son is not. This is shown in the beginning when Henry Iv says:

“Yea, there thou mak’st me sad, and mak’st me sin. In envy that my Lord Northumberland should be the father to so blest a son, a son who is the theme of Honor’s tongue, amongst a grove the very straightest plant, who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, see riot and dishonor stain the brow Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved that some night-tripping fairy had exchanged in cradle-clothes our children where they lay, and called mine “Percy,” his “Plantagenet”! Then would I have his Harry, and he mine” 1.1.77-89).

From the beginning of the play we know that there are some Daddy son issues going on. Harry has a weird relationship with his father from the start, especially in the beginning when he discusses this possibility of switching his son at birth and how Harry is a punishment for his past sins—this would not allow me to have a very nice relationship with my father, which is why we can kind of understand the means of his rebellion (even though it is all a part of his master plan). How would you react if you were a prince and your father wished or said these things about you? I’m sure almost most people in these circumstances would rebel in some way. Henry Percy also has the same first name as King Henry IV which allows readers to associate him with a ‘king’s name’. Prince Harry does not act like much of a prince and this is clearly shown when we see his encounters with Falstaff: planning a robbery, and going against everything that a prince should stand for. Henry IV is aware of the kinds of behavior that his son is involved in, and fears that his kingdom will turn to shambles when Prince Harry takes over after his father’s death.

I noticed a similarity in the character of Prince Harry and the character of Juliet because they are both from wealthy families, who expect certain things of their children, and yet both Prince Harry and Juliet want nothing more than to rebel against their parents. They rebel not to hurt their parents, but for selfish gains. Neither of these characters really behave like they are wealthy and have a role to upkeep, however, Harry has a much more throughout plan than Juliet—we know this because Juliet is obviously dead in the end (which clearly was a very impulsive and juvenile plan), and Harry starts off acting teenager-like, but eventually he redeems himself by becoming king in the end. The quote in act 3 scene 2 really shows how Prince harry has a purpose and he does not want to let his father down, saying he rather die a hundred thousand deaths than break a vow to his father. His character switches from juvenile to a knoble prince:

I will redeem all this on Percy’s head, and, in the closing of some glorious day, be bold to tell you that I am your son, when I will wear a garment all of blood and stain my favors in a bloody mask, which, washed away, shall scour my shame with it. and that shall be the day, whene’er it lights, that this same child of honor and renown, this gallant Hotspur, this all-praisèd knight, and your unthought-of Harry chance to meet… The long-grown wounds of my intemperance. If not, the end of life cancels all bands, and I will die a hundred thousand deaths Ere break the smallest parcel of this vow ( 3.2.130-155).


2 thoughts on “Prince rebellious with another motive

  1. deabarbieri

    I really liked how you noticed the nick name aspect of the play, which reminded me of Taming of the Shrew when Katherine is reduced to “Kat”. I also liked how you made the connection between Prince Harry and Juliet…they are both young and impulsive and make decisions based on themselves and no one else. They also both come from wealthy upper class families that expect certain behaviors from their children that neither Harry or Juliet adhere to. Their difference lies in their endings-Harry is able to redeem himself and Juliet impulsively dies.

  2. alexhammer92

    I like how you brought up the use of nicknames in the play, which does seem to hold some importance towards the kind of characters those names represent. I also particularly like how you focused a lot on the relationship between Prince Hal and King Henry, since it helps us understand why Hal acts the way he does, and why Henry is disappointed in him. Hal eventually lives up to his father’s expectations, which definitely makes for a nice ending. Great post.


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