Sir John Fallstaff Henry IV Essay Research

Sir John Fallstaff- Henry IV Essay, Research Paper

Nicholas Sine

English Honors

Period Four

January 15, 1997

Sir John Falstaff

Humans are addicted to judging others on their first impression. Humans will never read

into the book, they just look at the cover. Many people, both fictional and nonfictional can not be

judged until you study them. Someone who first appears to be only comic relief, could end up to

be a very important character. Sir John Falstaff is but one of these people. Falstaff’s

righteousness hides under his vocalization.

John Falstaff’s character is hard to understand without analyzing his words. He loves to

play games with his speech. Falstaff tricks his audience with complex words and phrases. Often

John would win over his opponent by tricking them into saying things that they did not mean or

getting them to think that he is not that bad. Falstaff said this in Part I act II scene IV. “… A

question not to be asked. Shall the son of England prove a thief and take purses? A question to

be asked. There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and it is known to many in our

land by the name of pitch. This pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile; so doth the

company thou keepest. For, Harry, now I do not speak to thee in drink, but in tears; not in

pleasure, but in passion; not in words only, but in woes also; and yet there is a virtuous man

whom I have often noted in thy company, but I know not his name.” In this passage, the Prince

and Fastaff trade places in speech and try to make the other look dumb. Fastaff later goes on to

say that this wonderful person that the King is talking about. The way Falstaff does this proves

him to be very keen. He proves that even though he may look dumb, he will still put up a good

fight. Falstaff is very bold about his thoughts and opinions. He stands out because he is not afraid

to think his own way. While most people agree, because of the other people around them, Falstaff

chooses to make his own decisions and think for himself. This is proven when Falstaff and the

prince switch places in a verbal fight. Every one else in the book thinks of the Prince as a perfect

young man because he is the prince, however Falstaff is too smart for this, he points out that the

prince is a thief. This is a prime example of why Falstaff is righteous. Falstaff’s righteous

characteristics are cloaked by his speech. Not until you can see behind Falstaff’s words can you

actually realize what a genius he is. Falstaff looked at problems like no other man in his time.

When other main characters in the book were worrying about the negative side of something,

Falstaff, almost childishly, would make it humorous. In act II scene IV, Falstaff, through a keen

battle of wits with the Prince proves that he is very fond of the Prince and that he is scared of the

day the Prince will abandon him. While Falstaff acts like he doesn’t care by joking lightly with the

subject, others are very serious about the thought of them leaving to war. A very important part of

the book is when Falstaff tells what his thoughts on honor are. He is a rebel by the way he

boycotts honor. He does not understand why people will die for something that actually does

nothing for them. Falstaff is very loud and will be even rude if that is essential to getting the point

he is trying to make to others. “…Honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I

come on? How then? Can honor set to a leg? No. Or and an arm? No. Or take away the grief

of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honor? A word. What is

that word honor? What is that honor? Air-a trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a

Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. “tis insensible then? yea, to the dead.

But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I’ll none

of it. Honor is a mere scutcheon–and so ends my catechism.” In this quote, Falstaff goes brutal

about the honor subject to show his opinion. On many occasions in the book, Falstaff would use

trick words that when thought out, were very rude, but even still he was able to give a very

powerful point to his audience.

Falstaff is a very complex character and this may be to a disadvantage to him because

people don’t always understand him. However, despite all the ingenious puzzles and games he

plays, his true thoughts, feelings, and righteous lie naked to anyone willing to understand them.


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