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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Hal (was Welsh, etc.)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0484  Thursday, 1 March 2001

From:           M. Neidorff <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Feb 2001 21:33:22 -0500
Subject:        Hal (was Welsh, etc.)

Bill Godshalk writes, in response to Don Bloom,

>How do I know that Hal "actually" enjoys the company of the "lower
>orders"?  He metaphorically refers to these folks as "foul and ugly
>mists/Of vapors that did seem to strangle him" (1 Henry IV, 1.2.196-197
>Bevington).  He himself is the sun, of course.

Is this the accepted reading of these lines? I have never formally
studied Shakespeare, but I've done a lot of reading and, as this is a
favorite play, have it in a number of editions (Riverside, Bevington,
Folger, Arden). I don't see it in the footnotes. I've always read the
"foul and ugly mists" as Hal referring to his own dalliance, the "loose
behavior" he promises to throw off.

I like Hal, and have a lot of sympathy for him. I think he is very
comfortable with the Eastcheap crew, and has real fondness for his
associates, love for Falstaff. On the other hand, he is always aware he
is the prince and will be king. He's also young, reckless (as far as he
lets himself "play holiday")and sometimes thoughtless and cruel.

Let me hasten to add, before the arrows start to fly, that I *am* aware
there is no "real" Hal, but this is how I envision him when I read the
play; and that the above is my own interpretation and I don't require
anyone to adopt it. Now fire away (isn't that the normal punishment for


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