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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Comparing Prince Hal And Henrys Models Of Statescraft - 975 words
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Comparing Prince Hal and Henry's Models of StatescraftTo compare the difference between King Henry and Prince Hal's style ofstatecraft, first we have to understand the basic philosophy of each. The Kingbelives that to effectively lead the country one needs to lead by example.According to the King's philosophy the best man is the one who lives a pure lifeand garners respect and honor from all men. To the King's way of thinkingHotspur is more fit to be a King than Prince Hal, a comparison the King makesseveral times. In Act I, scene i King Henry makes his first comparison ofHotspur to his son saying that Lord Northumberland's son, Hotspur, was 'A sonwho is the theme of honour's tounge..' while Prince Hal was stained by '..riotand dishonor...' In fact the King goes so far as to wish that Hotspur was hishis son and not Prince Henry. Later in Act III, scene ii King Henry tells thePrince that Hal reminds him of the way King Richard acted before Henry took thethrone and that Hotspur reminds the King of himself.
This is the King's not sosubtle way oftelling Hal that the King doesn't think he is fit to suceed him tothe throne.Prince Hal on the other hand has a different idea of statecraft. He expresseshis ideas in his speech in Act I, scene ii when he says 'If all the year wereplaying holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work; But when they seldomcome, they wish'd-for come,..My reformation glitt'ring o'er my fault, Shallshow more goodly and attract more eyes than that which hath no foil to set itoff.' He is saying that he may be acting like a common ruffian now but when hedoes take up his duties as heir to the throne and begin to act like a prince hewill shine more in the eyes of men because his actions now will provide acontrast by which they can judge him. It is important to note that Hal does notplan to spend the rest of his life acting in this manner. He does plan to leavethis life behind and take on the role of heir apparent to the throne of England.In Act III, scene ii when the King confronts Hal about his delinquencies Hal isquick to agree with the King. He admits that he has not acted the part of aprince and humbled by the condemnation of the King swears a vow to redeemhimself or die trying. He so impresses the King that he is given command of anarmy and then goes on to preform heroically on the field of battle, saving theKing's life and ultimately defeating Hotspur in single combat.At first it would seem that the King's idea of proper statecraft and the properway for a prince to act won out since Hal put aside his old ways and became theideal the King had wished for
I think that Hal's position and the King'sposition were not that different at all. As shown in the previous quote from ActI, scene ii it was always Hal's plan to leave the life he was leaving and returnto the 'ideal' that the King wanted. The Kings speech in Act III, scene ii mighthave been the catylst but if Hal had never valued the ideals of the King thespeech alone would never have pushed him to the actions which he later preformed.I think the King's speech simply served to show Hal that now was the time to putthe old ways behind him.There are at least two good reasons for Hal to have behaved the way he did. Thefirst is that by consorting with men like Falstaff he was able to learn howthings really were in the kingdom. It is very hard for a King living in luxury,removed from the everyday life of the people to know how the populous feels andto do a good job of governing them. King Henry, ruling from afar was animpressive figure to the common man in England but it must have been hard forhim to relate to that common man.
Prince Hal is going to become an impressivefigure to the common man but because of the way he lived previously he will alsobe able to relate to the common man and thus better govern.The second reason why it was good for Hal to behave the way he did is one ofself-preservation. King Henry complained that Hal was not like Hotspur, alwaysseeking glory in battle and commanding respect from men twice his age but if Halhad been like Hotspur I think King Henry would have felt threatened. I thinkthat most Kings must fear thier successors to some degree. If Hal had been likeHotspur I believe King Henry would have always been looking over his shoulderworried that Hal might try to speed Henry's demise so that he could assume thethrone. To protect himself Henry might have made Hal's life miserable perhapshad him placed effectively under house arrest or even killed if the paranoiawent far enough. Because Hal played the errant prince he posed no threat to theKing, indeed he showed no care for courtly duties at all. It was wise for Hal toput himself in a non-threatening position until such a time as the King neededhim to take a stronger role.
Because Hal took up his role as heir apparentat theKing's request the King had no reason to feel threatened by it.The differences between Hal's model of statecraft and that of the King are notgreat. Hal's model is merely a refined version of the King's and in its slightdifferences it is a better version because they allow him to make himself into aperson better fit to govern and at the same time allow his father to continue inhis duties without spending time and effort to make sure his position is securefrom his own son.
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