License To Rule In Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I

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Throughout Henry IV Part I Shakespeare tests that a monarch’s licence to rule is not based entirely on their Divine Right of Succession but also their ability to shoulder the responsibility that comes with such power. He consistently presents power and control as two very distinct and contrary facets that both coincide, suggesting that; in order to be a great ruler, one must have both. In the first scene of the whole play we can see that the King has power of position but no control of his people as the civil war is pictured as “a furious close of civil butchery”. Furthermore, King Henry has no control of his son, Hal, he even wistfully wishes that his son and Harry Percy had been switched as babies; “See riot and dishonour…show more content…
Nevertheless, even in the tavern, Hal showcases desirable and vital qualities of a good leader, sharing witty banter with Falstaff. At the end of Act 1 Scene 2, Hal delivers his soliloquy to the audience, and refers to his tavern friends as “the foul and ugly mists of vapours that did seem to strangle him [me]”. Hal tells the audience that “when this loose behaviour I throw off, and pay the debt I never promised…” he shall”…falsify men’s hopes”. Hal’s tactics coincide with that of Niccolo Machiavelli who famously quoted that “whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct within the…show more content…
A deliberate action on Shakespeare’s part – although it is said in a drunken tavern over laughs it implies that Hal knows he must do his duty, and that he cannot continue for too much longer with his current set of friends. This shows that Hal is very much in control, he is aware of his near future responsibilities, and like the archetypal Machiavellian leader, he places these above his own personal

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