Hal and Falstaff’s role-play in the tavern is a point of high dramatic tension within the play – initially it seems to be just a game, however with Hal’s final words of "I do, I will" we have to question whether actually is true and serious intentions are in fact being revealed. It can be seen as the climax of the powerful father / son dynamic which has existed between the fat old knight and Hal: from this point on Hal turns to his real father and rejects his misbehaviour of the past.

Disguise also plays a large part in the battle of the royalists over the rebels. With those loyal to the King such as Walter Blunt disguised as the ruler himself the rebels are confused and distracted. Not only can this disguise be seen as a sign of political victory but also it seems to highlight the futility of kingship. If it is so easily imitated and indeed picked up (as Hal proves) is it really worthy of all the stigma and respect that surrounds it?

When Falstaff pretends to be dead it is a very telling moment. Hal’s true attitude towards his friend becomes apparent; "Death hath not struck so fat a deer today" thus he still makes a cruel joke at the expense of Falstaff’s weight – we are asked to question whether the Prince used his friend for his own enjoyment.


Honour is one of the most enduring themes within the play and works on many levels with the various characters who have different perceptions of what ‘honour’ is:


He is described by the King in Act I, Scene I as "the theme of hounour’s tongue" and by Douglas in Act IV, Scene I as "the king of honour". For Hotspur honour is really his ultimate goal, it is what he strives to achieve before anything else, even love, as he tells his wife in Act II, Scene III "When I am a horseback / I will swear I love thee infinitely". This clearly illustrates how his militarism dominates all aspects of his life and temperament. Hotspur’s definition of honour is a military glory – being willing to risk your life on the battlefield in pursuit of individual glory. He has little sense of fighting for a general good or cause even though he claims to be involved in the rebellion to rid the nation of "this ingrate and canker’d Bolingbroke". His selfish goals are revealed in the dispute (Act III, Scene I) over the division of the kingdom – he demands a larger share, showing his irrationality when he demands:

"I shall not wind with such deep indent

To rob me of so rich a bottom here"

This shows Hotspur’s need to have material validation of his military goals. In the pursuit of honour he is completely selfish and driven by a need for personal fulfillment.

Hotspur also adheres to the view, perpetuated by the political figures of the play, that achieving honour on the battle field makes you a superior being, for example he condemns Hal in Act I, Scene III as "that sword and buckler Prince of Wales". This implies that Hal is incompetent on the battlefield by depicting him using very basic armour and he uses this as a basis for his claim that "I think his father loves him not". Hotspur is very arrogant and thinks that his military glories give him more importance than the Prince of Wales. For him honour is the defining point of his identity therefore it is fitting that he does die an honourable death on the battlefield despite the fact that ironically it is at the hands of the Prince he has so mercilessly scorned. With the loss of his honour to Hal he also loses his will to live:

"I better brook the loss of brittle life

Than those proud titles thou hast won of me"

Despite his valiant attempts Hotspur is not essentially an honourable character. He lacks loyalty and compassion, he has too narrow a perspective on life and is totally self-focused and greedy.

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