King Henry IV, Part I Essay

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Henry IV is perhaps the play's most mysterious character. A few critics, including Ann Marie McNamara, maintain that Henry is the protagonist and a hero. Most other critics view the King's claim to being the central character as weak, with most critics seeing Hal as the protagonist, and some arguing in favor of Falstaff or Hotspur. Robert J. Fehrenbach sides with the scholars who believe Henry is a secondary character in the play. He argues that Shakespeare's indirect characterization of Henry offers some insight into the King's thinking and motivation, but also inhibits the reader's gaining a real understanding of Henry. Most critics agree that Henry is a Machiavel, that is, that Henry uses whatever means necessary, including deceit and manipulation, to achieve his political goals. Critics such as John Dover Wilson and A. R. Humphrey's agree with this assessment to a degree, but also believe that Henry...

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This section contains 4,814 words
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