Falstaff: J. Dover Wilson – Riot and the Prodigal Prince (1943) “No on… can have missed the resemblance between Riot and Falstaff Falstaff serves 2 main roles in William Shakespeare’s King Henry IV Part One •Alternative father figure to Hal •The Vice (comedic representation) As a father figure to Hal, Falstaff’s influence is juxtaposed against that of Hal’s biological father King Henry IV. He influences Hal to steal and behave most inappropriately for a prince.
This influence offers comedic relief to the audience from the court aspect of the play and also provides a starting point/lifestyle from which Hal can develop. -Falstaff holds himself much above his setting, considering himself to truly be much greater than he really is he achieves this by such actions as partaking in witty banter with the prince while in the tavern as well as telling lies about heroic deeds he presumably achieved. Act 3 Scene 3 – line 10-15 Comic representation of Falstaff’s virtues -defends himself and by doing so highlights his misdeeds -swore little gambled no more than 7 days a week -went to a prostitute house not more often than every 15 mins -paid off his debts that he keeps burrowing -lived in a good moral compass Falstaff is associated with the Devil of the miracle play and the Vice of the morality play and misleads Hal in such a way as to provide amusement and to lower Hal’s standing to provide contrast to his rising and in such a way as to allow for sympathy to his character but is also obvious to the audience “that the reign of this marvellous Lord of Misrule must have an end, that Falstaff mu be rejected by the Prodigal Prince,” (J.
Dover Wilson) Shakespeare also uses Falstaff “in order to explain and palliate the Prince’s love of rioting and wantonness” “a devil… in the likeness of an old fat man” a very different kind of poet, who imagined a very different kind of satin. J. Dover Wilson “Falstaff symbolizes, on the one hand, all the feasting and good cheer for which Eastcheap stood, and reflects, on the other, the shifts, subterfuges, and shady tricks that decayed gentlemen and soldiers were put to if they wished to keep afloat and gratify their appetites in the London underworld of the late sixteenth century. ”