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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Hal
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0510  Monday, 5 March 2001

[1]     From:   M. Neidorff <
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        Date:   Friday, 02 Mar 2001 13:45:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Hal

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 02 Mar 2001 23:04:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0490 Re: Hal


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M. Neidorff <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Mar 2001 13:45:41 -0500
Subject:        Re: Hal

Ed Taft writes: But he does begin his speech: "I know you all, and will
a while uphold /The unyok'd humor of your idleness" (Riverside
1.2.195-6). He may be addressing the departing or departed Poins and
Falstaff, or the audience at large. In any case, I feel that "you all"
makes a better referent for "ugly mists" than Hal's "loose behavior"
(208).

Ed, I can certainly see it played that way. However, every time I read
this speech, I hear it starting in a tone of sadness and as much
self-contempt as contempt for Poins, et.al., not for who they are but
for the "unyoked humor of [their] idleness", of which, by upholding, Hal
is also guilty. I don't think he's addressing it to anyone but himself,
or rather, perhaps rehearsing in his mind yet again his explanation of
his actions to his father. The whole of the speech is so full of Hal's
guilty consciousness of his own idleness and rationalizations for it("If
all the year were playing holidays/ to sport would be as tedious as to
work,/but when they seldom come, they wished for come"; "so when this
loose behaviour I throw off...by how much better than my word I am";
"I'll so offend to make offense a skill")that I see the "foul and ugly
mists" as another metaphor for his own fault that he will break through
when it pleases him to be himself again (take up again his royal
duties).

Having reread the above, I also want to add that I do think we are meant
to see Hal's association with Poins, Falstaff, the drawers, etc. as one
of the positive things that ultimately makes him a good king. (And I do
see it that way) I don't agree with the interpretation that this is
simply a coldly calculated self-interested association. I read Hal as
having a real emotional bond with many of this group (certainly with
Falstaff).  Nonetheless, Hal knows what burdens and decisions await him
as king, and knows that he will not find his role-models in Eastcheap.
(He may be led by Falstaff & Poins into the robbery and the
double-cross, but quickly takes charge of them when it comes to the
war.)He knows he will ultimately have to reject this life. It is his
emotional connection to the people in this life (i.e. Falstaff) that
gives this soliloquy its emotional complexity and intellectual
hoop-jumping. At least, that's the most satisfying way for me to read
it.

Merri

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Mar 2001 23:04:30 -0500
Subject: 12.0490 Re: Hal
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0490 Re: Hal

Bill Godshalk's notion that Poins and Falstaff are "base" seems to me
well off base.  All the indications are that both are gentlemen,
relatively impecunious, perhaps (at least Falstaff is always short of
funds), but by birth and training members of the upper class of English
society-quite distinct in that way from Francis the drawer, and indeed
from Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill (putatively Falstaff's servants).  The
familiarity that appears in the Poins-Prince relationship through both 1
and 2H4 supports the suggestion that Poins has for some time been a
member of the Prince's household, and maybe the man who first introduced
the Prince to Falstaff.  If I were directing the plays I would cast
Poins as a couple of years older than the Prince.

Familiarly,
Dave Evett
 

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