Thursday, October 31, 2013

Henry IV: A Confusion of Authenticity

Shakespeare's, Henry IV Part One traces brewing tensions, rebellious youths, drunken lords, and passionate warriors, concocting a whirl wind of fury, manipulation, and disappointment in the pretenses to an intense battle between the royals and the rebels at Shrewsbury. Shakespeare follows the lives of numerous characters, including the questionable King Henry IV, his defiant son, Prince Harry, the ignorant and disgraceful Sir John Falstaff, and the enthusiastically tenacious rebel leader, Hotspur.

As the play switches between the perspectives of  the rebel and royal camps, the reader is exposed to a medley of attitudes, all contradicting the previous view points that were conveyed just pages before. King Henry IV illustrates his cause as noble and beneficial to his country, while Hotspur depicts the king as a manipulative, deceptive,and undeserving individual who has betrayed many in his conquest for power. However, Henry IV attempts to advocate for peace, while the rebels haughtily deny this offer. It's all  in the perspective. Who is truly noble? Whose cause is just? Are the thieves and low-lives of the pub truly cruel or merely naive? Personally, I'm still baffled as to what occurred. The truth is never concrete.  It's distorted and misinterpreted, pieces are hidden everywhere, many lies are masked by truth, while truths are veiled by lies. War heightens the confusion of authenticity.

Yet, despite the variety of perceptions that parade themselves throughout the novel,  one truth is evident: war cultivates hostility and manipulation that cannot merely be ignored. Different views are what create the tensions and prejudices that arise in the events leading to the ultimate battle, asking the question: What significance lies in truth when no individual proves trustworthy?