Separate Social Classes In Henry IV By William Shakespeare

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In early modern England there were three distinctly separate social classes: the lower class, the middle class, and the upper class. The lower class consisted of poor, unskilled workers, the middle class consisted of skilled workers, and the upper class consisted of the nobility. Each social class had a norm for how to behave, how to speak, and each had certain customs. These norms are illustrated in some way in much of English literature. For example, Knights, members of the upper class, were known to be courageous, honorable men. In Henry IV, Part 1 Shakespeare immediately establishes class distinctions as an important theme. Act 1, scene 1, takes place at King Henry’s palace, and as he is meeting with his noble advisors. Act 1, scene 2,…show more content…
However, Falstaff does not care for honor, and therefore does not care if he has any. At one point in the play, Falstaff states, “Can honor set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. . . . What is honor? A word” (V.i.130–133). Falstaff perceives honor as just a word, a non-tangible concept that has no practical use. It is this idea of honor that Shakespeare is using the character of Falstaff to dispute. A typical knight in modern England was seen as being chivalrous and honorable. Shakespeare shows through Falstaff that this is not necessarily the case with all…show more content…
At the Battle of Shrewsbury, there is a scene where Prince Hal asks Falstaff for his sword. Prince Hal reaches for Falstaff’s sword, and instead finds a bottle of wine. Falstaff cannot take anything seriously, and jokes about honor after Prince Hal gets mad at him, saying, “I like not such grinning honor as Sir Walter hath.” Falstaff mocks Sir Walter, who has been slain on the battlefield, for having honor; illustrating the view that Sir Walter’s “honor” did not keep him alive. This facetious behavior shows why Falstaff is considered to be

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