Falstaff, The Unlikely Friend

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Margaret King English 520.01 Essay 3 March 5th, 2012 The Anti-Hero and His Not so Trusty Sidekick Vial, deceitful, thieving, drunken, and craven are all words that describe Sir John Falstaff, yet for decades he has captured both readers and viewers alike. His life-loving, and fun seeking ways pull us in stronger than his corrupt and questionable behavior push us away. We love him in spite of his behavior, in fact perhaps we love him for his behavior. His zeal for life, “love,” and happiness are infections, and this though her personality rubbing off on Prince Hal. He is a foul man made of no moral fiber, and even less ambition yet he serves a a driving force through the plot of The First Part of Henry IV; creating adventure, conflict, character foils, and comedic relief. Despite his self-serving and gluttonous ways the audience, consonantly to Prince Hal, forms a bond with the fallen knight and “Lord of Misrule.” While he shares similarities with many of the main characters, Sir John Falstaff also serves as a foil to some of the most important characters we see in The First Part of Henry IV, highlighting the good in all of those around him as well as the showing the parallels between court-life and common-life. Falstaff is a perfect opposite to King Henry in that he serves as a representation of the commons while King Henry represents the perfectly ordered and rule governed court. Shakespeare's commoners, like Falstaff, spend their time gallivanting between taverns in search of prostitutes and ale while the court spends their days enlightening themselves and behaving in a way that is morally and socially acceptable. However, differences aside, the two both play paternal roles in the life of the young Prince Hal. King Henry and Falstaff offer Hal two completely different “role models” and from them he learns who not to be. Their combine teachings
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