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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Hal
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0524  Tuesday, 6 March 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Mar 2001 12:26:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0510 Re: Hal

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Mar 2001 12:40:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0510 Re: Hal


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Mar 2001 12:26:03 -0500
Subject: 12.0510 Re: Hal
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0510 Re: Hal

Merri Neidorff's post is based on a previous one by Bill Godshalk, not
me.  But since I happen to agree with Bill about Hal, let me give a
short response:  Hal's soliloquy in 1.2 is chock full of metaphors that
are loosely strung together, so it's possible to see more than one
referent for "foul and ugly mists" or "base contagious clouds."  But
Bill is right, I think, to stress that grammatically the referent seems
to be Falstaff and the gang.  Later on, Hal changes focus a bit in
206-207:

        "And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
        My reformation, glittering o'er my fault. . . ."

Here, bright metal = reformation, and sullen ground = fault.  Hal tries
to restrict his plan to his former perceived self and his later
perceived self, thus denying that Falstaff and the gang will in any way
be casualties of his 'reformation."  But they will be, and Hal knows it
in some corner of his mind, for near the end of 2.4, he predicts what
will happen in the future: "I do, I will."

There's no getting around it: Hal is manipulating England and using
(misusing?) his friends, Merri.  The real question is, Does he have to
do this?  It's NOT an easy question to answer, in my view.

Best wishes,
-Ed

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Mar 2001 12:40:23 -0500
Subject: 12.0510 Re: Hal
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0510 Re: Hal

David Evett writes:

>Bill Godshalk's notion that Poins and Falstaff are "base" seems to me
>well off base.  All the indications are that both are gentlemen . . . .

Dave, of course, is playing the early modern game of mis-taking the
word.  I use base to mean "of mean spirit; morally low; without
dignity."  "Base" may refer to humble origins or even to bastardy. But I
was NOT referring to place in the social hierarchy.  I was referring to
the antic behavior at Gadshill, to criminal intentions, to cowardly acts
on the battle field, etc.

Kenneth Myrick used to contend that Poins, probably a young knight, was
an appropriate companion to the Prince, while Falstaff, a dissolute old
knight, was not.  Nonetheless, at the end of Part 2, Falstaff is
actively banished the king's company, while Poins has disappeared from
the script.  Neither companion makes it into Hal's royal court.  I
suppose they remain in the base court to which only base kings come down
-- like glistering Phaeton.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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