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The conflict between different attitudes to loyalty Essay

How does Shakespeare put on stage the conflict between different attitudes to loyalty? How effectively do you think he does this? On stage we are introduced to two different styles of leadership. Shakespeare uses the King and Hal to act as contrasts of leadership. We seethe king as a ‘scary ogre’, who is to be feared. When we first meet the king he is easily angered as he is not obeyed by Hotspur, as he does not hand over the prisoners which he has captured. This shows that the king immediately demands obedience and respect.

Whenever someone is addressing the king, they call him ‘my liege’ or ‘my lord’. This again shows that people fear him, as they feel they must respect him. However, when we first meet Hal, Prince of Wales, Falstaff addresses him with ‘Hal’ and ‘lad’, which shows that people do not fear Hal as much, and that he is not as respected. Hal ‘mingles’ with the ‘common’ people, and he feels at home in the pub with his mates. This style of leadership is in contrast to his father’s, the King. Hal does not demand respect and obedience .

He is content with others making jokes at him and having a laugh. Falstaff says to Hal ‘ for a fine thief of the age of two and twenty or thereabouts’. Falstaff is suggesting that Hal is boring, but Hal is satisfied with being called this, whereas if it was the King who had received this comment, he would have got angry at being insulted. Hal himself enjoys a laugh with his mates, even if it means that someone is disadvantaged by it. For example he plays a trick on Falstaff, by allowing him to carry out a robbery and then the prince himself robs Falstaff.

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Hal did this just to show Falstaff up, and to make a fool of him, of which he does. Hal mixes with thieves and drunks, people of which his father would not approve. If Hal becomes king, it seems that he will not have the power and respect that his father had, because of the way he acts. It is not fit for the Prince of Wales to go on robberies, and get drunk in local pubs. People will lack respect for him and he will have no authority. In the scene with the King, we see him as not a very attractive character. He speaks in a manner which is slow, serious, and very stern.

This introduction to the king is important as it is the audience’s first view of him and they decide straight away what sort of character he is. This, almost evil presence around the King makes even the audience fear him, which is why the other characters in the play fear him. This is the kings way of leading his people. By being strict, ‘snobbish’, stern and fearful, this is why people follow him. We see the King lose his temper when he is disobeyed by Hotspur in the beginning of the play when Hotspur refuses to hand over some prisoners, and we also see him lose his temper over Hal because of Hal’s behaviour.

‘God pardon thee! Yet let me wonder, Harry, at thy affections, which do hold a wing quite from the flight of all thy ancestors. ‘ The King here is getting angry with his own son, as he feels Hal approach to leadership and King is far different than his own or his ancestors. We do not see the King any more angered here with his own son, than he is with Hotspur earlier on. Hal’s approach is far different. When we first meet him he is smiling and having a joke with Falstaff, and admitting how his lifestyle is poor by thieving, and is now planning yet another one.

This first impression does not make us see Hal as a leader, as he is irresponsible, and immature. He does not appear to be someone which we would look up to and respect and obey, we are more likely to argue back at him or simply be disobedience. It is difficult for the audience to see him ruling a country as king. It is the lack of respect that people have for him that makes the audience feel this way. After Falstaff was robbed, he comes back to the inn and addresses Hal with ‘A king’s son! If I do not beat thee out of thy kingdom’ and ‘You, Prince of Wales! ‘.

Falstaff may have been let down by Hal as he did not help him in the robbery like was planned, but it is not normal for a normal person such as Falstaff to insult the Prince of Wales like that, and tell him that he is not suitable to be Prince. This is how people talk to Hal, without fear or respect. Shakespeare has effectively used Hal and the King as contrasts of leadership, and this is clear and easy to see. It is even more apparent when the King orders Hal to him to discuss his behaviour. The King becomes emotional at this stage and begins to compare Hal to Richard II.

It is clear that the King does not approve of Hal’s attitude to leadership. What happens next is important, for Hal vows to his father that he will ‘be more myself’, and that he will change all of his ways. However, the next scene we see him pretending to ride a horse in the pub with Falstaff. After he vows to change, it is strange to see him act like this. It appears that despite what his father wants, he wishes to lead in his own way. The king’s leadership qualities are mainly the fear which her gives out, also he speaks in poetry a lot, so he is a good speaker.

He is able to address people and talk to them in a way that they will enjoy and remember. The King appears to consider things before acting upon. How ever with Hal we do not see many leadership qualities. Although one advantage Hal has is that he knows his faults, he is aware of himself, and he use’s his faults to gain popularity with his locals. However, one leadership quality we see is when Hal plans the robbery on Falstaff, this was cleverly put together it is not the type of quality we look for in a King. The audience may see him now as a king in the making.

Soon we hear him speaking in poetry which reminds us of his father and how he is becoming a king. It appears Hal’s ideas of being king are different from the king’s, for he will be a sly king. He will not be bothered if others suffer because of him. As long as he is at an advantage he is happy. The current King may also do this, but in a different way. For Hal does this whilst drinking with common people, and thieving, whereas the King is apart from society and it appears he looks down on them and gives them no respect.

How are people going to carry on respecting him if he does not show any signs of respecting others. Hal on the other hand may get more respect, but will find it hard to keep control of his people. Shakespeare has made an on stage battle of the contrasts in leadership. It is not evident as to which one is the correct one to use, but we can clearly see the advantages and disadvantages of both. Shakespeare has used the different types of leaderships in Hal and the King to create suspense on stage.

Hal we see as a ‘nice guy’ and someone who we can get on with, and because of this, we have a liking for him, and we care what happens to him. However, we may not like the King as much as Hal, but we still care what happens to him. This is because he demands respect so much on stage that we immediately we take an interest and concern as to what happens to him. This suspense is evident throughout the play, and it keeps the audience interested. Shakespeare has arranged the play so that we see the King and his associates in one scene, Falstaff and Hal in another, and Hotspur in another.

So it is like having three little stories going on at once. These changes to different characters are deliberate, as it allows the audience a break. As if the play just focused on Hal and Falstaff, the suspense would be so great and constant that the audience would lose concentration. It would be too much to take in. A play needs suspense, but at the same time there needs to be breaks from that suspense for the audience to really appreciate the play, and Shakespeare has achieved this well.

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