Falstaff, the Reverent Vice

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English 324 November 8th, 2012 Falstaff, the Vice “This chair shall be my state, this dagger my scepter, and this cushion my crown” (II.iv. 380-381). The passage from Act 3, Scene 3 Lines 168-190 highlights Falstaff’s role as the Vice as he represents Flesh and Pleasure. He dons his character with biblical allusions and preacher like prose to blanket his mischievous behaviour. Continuing the theme of morality from Richard II the scene also demonstrates Hal’s decision to take on the role as the “good angel”, to accept responsibility of serving his duty to the Crown and thereby contrasting himself with Falstaff’s role and character. In this scene, Falstaff has accused the hostess of stealing his money and valuable ring and goes on to insult her about what she has provided him even though he owes her a great debt. Hal, upon entering the scene, tries to chasten Falstaff about accusing an innocent woman, but to no avail. Falstaff with his smooth tongue manages to worm out of paying his debt and then ‘graciously’ forgives the hostess for her charge. Falstaff represents the Vice as he as he demonstrates his belief in the little value of honor and responsibility. Falstaff’s mention of “flesh” and being “twice the flesh of Adam” illustrates his role as the Vice as he uses “flesh” to justify his large size and lack of responsibility. Indeed, Falstaff uses his size not as a means to humble himself, but uses it to justify his need to eat and drink more than others to survive, as if the flesh causes “frailty” which also make him more apt to fall from innocence. Falstaff is hiding his true self behind a seemingly innocent excuse, much like Vice does in the play “enter name of play here” and instead of owning up to his responsibility, he uses it to justify his habits and behaviour, claiming that his larger size
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