King Henry IV by William Shakespeare

Essay by sercHigh School, 12th gradeA, December 2002

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King Henry IV by William Shakespeare is a play based on history, a history of a kingdom in midst of war. To single out any one character as the hero would be biased. War is a conflict in which both sides are fighting for their beliefs and a hero of one side would be an enemy of the other. Who is right? Is a question we must ask ourselves but one that has multiple answers.

It is important to understand just what constitutes a hero. Is a hero brave? Many characters in the play, as well as, history have been brave and courageous, running into battle or taking on a problem without fears. If that where the only prerequisite for "hero" status than many people are heroes. Following this logic, suicidal bombers and homicidal maniacs also fit the bill. A hero must strive to reach some noble goal. If so, who is to say what is a noble goal? Is overthrowing the current King a noble goal? What if one believes the King to be an imposter to the throne or an evil tyrant? Would one become a hero if he tried to overthrow an "unjust" or "unfit" ruler from the throne no matter the odds? And is it justifiable to wage wars based on your own philosophy or the belief of a handful of people, can such a bloody conflict ever be deemed justifiable? In the play we have many characters with their own agendas and views on the state of the kingdom, some clear and

some hidden in secrecy.

Hal, Hotspur, King Henry all have a claim to be the hero of the play as well as Mortimer, Glendower, and Douglas.

Hal seems to be a good choice for the status of the hero. The young prince that...