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The works by William Shakespeare are the integral part of the world literature heritage. Shakespeare is the outstanding author of the numerous tragedies and comedies which are staged at the theatres all over the world. Falstaff is one of the most remarkable characters of the several plays of the dramatist.
The aim of this essay is to characterize the place of the figure of Falstaff in the works of William Shakespeare.
The history of the character
Sir John Falstaff is the fictitious character of the three works by William Shakespeare including his historic plays Henry IV (both the first and the second parts), Henry V, and the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was claimed by the literature critics that, initially, Shakespeare named his character John Oldcastle but the family of the real life John Oldcastle urged Shakespeare to change the name of his character.
That is why the dramatist renamed it to Falstaff. Although the historic John Oldcastle was essentially different person, the connections between his destiny and the life of Shakespeare’s character could be found. In particular, in the play Henry IV, we get to know that the prince Henry starts to keep away from his old friend Falstaff once he has become the king. In the history, the prince Henry really kept away from John Oldcastle when he had been crowned.
The analysis of the character
Falstaff is one of the most popular Shakespeare’s characters despite his flaws and moral shortcomings. This is because the figure of Falstaff embodies the sincerity and astuteness of the plain men. “In Henry IV, Part 1, Falstaff is a boon companion to the young Prince Hal, a type of nonjudgmental father-substitute…and throughout the play Falstaff comments on the political machinations with inglorious, reckless, egotistical good sense” (Sir John Falstaff n.d., par.2).
His sarcasm is addressed to the remain of feudal society. He can hardly be described as the earnest man. On the contrary, he serves not too hard and uses the ruses and lies to present himself as a more diligent person. In Henry IV, Part II, we get to know about the breakdown of his friendship with prince Hal. In Henry V, Falstaff dies.
The figure of Falstaff represents the spirit of cheerfulness and independence. The charisma of the character is apparent in his wittiness and boldness. The sincerity and generosity are some of the features describing his character. It can be said that his merits give rise to his demerits.
For instance, his inherent love of freedom leads to his defiant behavior, his humor turns to cynicism and his cheerfulness results in the drunkenness and gluttony. Through the character of Falstaff, Shakespeare shows how the mockery of morality can lead to the immorality. Nevertheless, the nature of his character makes him stand out among other figures of Shakespeare’s plays.
In order to summarize all above mentioned, it should be said that the figure of Falstaff takes an important place in the works of William Shakespeare. The character is presented in three of his famous plays: Henry IV (Part I and Part II), Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The plots of the plays depict the relationship of Falstaff with prince Hal. Overall, Falstaff is one of the brightest literature characters. He embodies the spirit of independence and cheerfulness in the works of Shakespeare.
Sir John Falstaff. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Sir-John-Falstaff