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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Harry, Hal, Henry
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0110  Monday, 18 February 2008

[1] 	From:	Carol Barton <
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	Date:	Friday, 15 Feb 2008 19:35:05 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

[2] 	From:	Nicole Coonradt <
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	Date:	Sunday, 17 Feb 2008 01:58:43 +0000
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

[3] 	From:	Carolyn Coulson-Grigsby <
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	Date:	Sunday, 17 Feb 2008 10:48:05 -0500
	Subj:	RE: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

[4] 	From:	Donald Bloom <
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	Date:	Monday, 18 Feb 2008 11:06:17 -0600
	Subj:	RE: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Carol Barton <
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Date:		Friday, 15 Feb 2008 19:35:05 -0500
Subject: 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

 >But it isn't "simply." I was Abby every day of my life
 >until I entered college, when a jeer from an upperclassman
 >made me decide that Abigail was my name. Only family
 >and the closest of friends were allowed "Abby." I outgrew
 >that, too, and will now answer to anything spoken with
 >affection . . .  but it was a major and conscious decision
 >that was very much part of the struggle to become an
 >adult, accepting an adult name as mine. Since I doubt
 >my own uniqueness in that area, I have to interpret
 >Harry's abandonment of "Hal" as a specific decision
 >related to his assumption of the crown and adult
 >responsibilities. It's not "simply." It's a deliberate
 >declaration.

I agree with Abigail. If plays had a "volta" (the way sonnets do), this 
would be it: when Hal (which is really the diminutive for "Harold," 
sometimes also abbreviated to "Harry") puts off the name of his youth, 
he also puts off the pursuits of his youth. I would add, too, that (as 
Abigail suggests) the decision to adopt a different name also signals 
the rejection in some form of one's former self or lifestyle. My former 
stepson went as far as dropping his first name in favor of his middle: 
new man, new name.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Nicole Coonradt <
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Date:		Sunday, 17 Feb 2008 01:58:43 +0000
Subject: 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

An apt reply, Dear Abigail, and it points to another issue:  with the 
Bard, ever deliberate, we should realize that nothing is "simple." If it 
were, this website would have have far fewer reasons to exist. Out of 
curiosity, does anyone know how many similar sites exist for other 
authors? It would be interesting to learn how many are devoted to 
musing/puzzling about their respective author's work  Is any other 
author quite so enigmatic as Shakespeare?

Best,
Nicole Coonradt

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Carolyn Coulson-Grigsby <
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Date:		Sunday, 17 Feb 2008 10:48:05 -0500
Subject: 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

I've been following this discussion with twofold interest. First, I've 
always pondered the change in names & found it useful in teaching to be 
able to distinguish the stages of the character's development by 
referring to him by the name appropriate to the stage. Second, and my 
reason for chiming in, is that my 4-year-old son is named Henry, after 
his great-grandfather, but we call him Hal. I was resistant to calling a 
young boy Henry, which has a serious tone, one befitting a king, not a 
youth. But Hal, sweet wag, has a warmness and a fondness to it, as I 
believe that no matter Falstaff's character flaws, he loves Hal more 
than Bolingbroke does.

Recently, my son went through a two-week period when anytime someone 
called him Hal, he would say, "I'm not Hal. I'm Henry." We have no idea 
where this came from. It may be that he has just grasped the idea of a 
full name and a nickname (he has a baby sister with both too). However, 
we do call him Henry when we get stern with him, and actually my husband 
calls him Henry at least half the time. When Hal declared himself 
"Henry," I had a strong adverse reaction. While I know it's likely for 
him to re-dub himself Harry or Henry at some point, I am not ready for 
such a mark of transition. That will mean he's growing up and declaring 
a kind a independence.

Abigail's post invited my personal disclosure, and my last point is 
about different social circles having different names for an individual. 
My Hal's 'split identity' has already begun as he has one group of 
friends whom he met during his 'Henry fortnight'. This group of 4 and 5 
year olds call him Henry most of the time, although he has now gone back 
to calling himself Hal.

So much for my personal stories! Thanks for your patience.

Carolyn Coulson-Grigsby
Assistant Professor of Theatre and Humanities
Centenary College

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Donald Bloom <
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Date:		Monday, 18 Feb 2008 11:06:17 -0600
Subject: 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0102 Harry, Hal, Henry

As I read it, "Hal" is a name used almost exclusively by Falstaff -- 31 
times in 1H4, 5 in 2H4. Ned Poins uses it twice in 1H4. No one else 
does. It would appear to be Falstaff's special nickname for a particular 
friend, a common enough event.

"Harry" is what everybody else calls him, not only his father, but 
Hotspur and Vernon. Moreover, Falstaff calls him that while pretending 
to be the king, as does Hal himself.

Whatever other literary / symbolic interpretation that can be made of 
the prince's names, can we agree that Hal is his "tavern" name, given 
him by Falstaff and used by no one else (except the one other gentleman 
in the group, Poins)? To the rest of the world he is Harry.

don

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