paper:Theory of Falstaffs character, Introduction The character Sir John Falstaff plays a crucial part in Shakespeares Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Falstaff gives a deep impression to people on the world since he has stepped the stage. What draws us in and makes us like Falstaff? If you ask what he enjoys, no doubt the answer is, first and foremost, eating and drinking, then relaxing at the inn with his other merry friends and companions. These things are what really matter to Falstaff, but Falstaff portrays one aspect of life that is both brutal and harsh. This is important because Falstaff is noble like all other main characters in the play. Unlike Falstaff, the other nobles in the play behave well as real noble persons. Falstaff acts more like the lower class people.
In order to satisfy his needs and desire, Falstaff has to ignore his status and does some ridiculous things. At the same time, he talks big and ignores the social honor and conventions. To him, honor is just a word and nothing dying over. It is easy to find that the character of Falstaff is a typical example for research. So many people on the world have done some research on him.
Sun Qi had compared Falstaff with Ah™Q in order to find the character of Falstaff. Other critics have done similar researches. Besides some advantages we have find that those studying have some disadvantages. As we know personal character is a complex system. Liu Zaifu has said in his work The Combination of Character that there are three methods to analyze the personal character. The first one is to compare between different personal characters; the second is to compare between the phenomenon and essence existed in one person; the last one is to compare the two opponent factors of character in one person.
According to those rules we discuss and analyze the character of Falstaff. We seek to find out the similarities and differences between Falstaff and King Lear, then analyze the complex character of Falstaff from several aspects. It is easy to find that there are complication and romanticism and realistic meanings existed in the character of Falstaff. In addition, we try to find the causes of shaping the character of Falstaff and get all-side recognition.
On one hand, the birth of Falstaff is not casual, at that time the knight system has been decayed and the humanism is in the embryonic stage, Falstaff represents the special class that should be doomed to die, because they do not want to do anything for themselves and idle about. On the other hand, the character is a pursuing system and this kind of pursing system is motivation that forces the human being to do something for themselves and others. Falstaff is a knight and has decent status, in order to live and get the love he has to talk big, tell lies and often be teased by others.
I. Comparison between Falstaff and King Lear The strength of Shakespeare™s plays lies in the absorbing stories they tell, in their wealth of complex characters, and in the eloquent speech”vivid, forceful, and at the same time lyric”that the playwright puts on his characters™ lips. It has often been noted that Shakespeare™s characters are neither wholly good nor wholly evil, and that it is their flawed, inconsistent nature that makes them memorable. Hamlet fascinates audiences with his ambivalence about revenge and the uncertainty over how much of his madness is feigned and how much genuine.
Falstaff would not be beloved if, in addition to being genial, openhearted, and witty, he were not also boisterous, cowardly, and, ultimately, poignant. Because of those reasons we have to analyze the character of Falstaff. Liu Zaifu has said in his works The Combination of Character that there are three methods to analyze the personal character. The first one is to compare between different personal character; the second is to compare between the phenomenon and essence existed in one person; the last one is to compare the two opponent factors of character in one person.
According to those rules we discuss and analyze the character of Falstaff. A. The Character of King Lear Shakespeares tragedy King Lear is a detailed description of the consequences of one mans decisions. This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, whose decisions greatly alter his life and the lives of those around him. As Lear bears the status of King he is, as one expects, a man of great power but sinfully he surrenders all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards her. This untimely abdication of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell.
King Lear is a metaphorical description of one mans journey through hell in order to expiate his sin. As the play opens one can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his downfall. This is the first and most significant of the many sins that he makes in this play. By abdicating his throne to fuel his ego he is disrupts the great chain of being which states that the King must not challenge the position that God has given him. This undermining of Gods authority results in chaos that tears apart Lears world. Leaving him, in the end, there is nothing. Following this Lear begins to banish those around him that genuinely care for him as at this stage he cannot see beyond the mask that the evil wear. He banishes Kent, a loyal servant to Lear, and his youngest and previously most loved daughter Cordelia.
The result in Lear surrounding himself with people who only wish to use him which leaves him very vulnerable attack. This is precisely what happens and it is through this that he discovers his wrongs and amends them. Following the committing of his sins, Lear becomes abandoned and estranged from his kingdom which causes him to loose sanity. While lost in his grief and self-pity the fool is introduced to guide Lear back to the sane world and to help Lear find that was once lost behind a hundred knights but now is out in the open and scared like a little child.
The fact that Lear has now been pushed out from behind his Knights is dramatically represented by him actually being out on the lawns of his castle. The terrified little child that is now unsheltered is dramatically portrayed by Lears sudden insanity and his rage and anger is seen through the thunderous weather that is being experienced. All of this contributes to the suffering of Lear due to the gross sins that he has committed. The peak of this hell that is experienced by Lear in order to repay his sins is at the end of the play when Cordelia is killed. Lear says this before he himself dies as he cannot live without his daughter. All of this pain that Lear suffered is traced back to the single most important error that he made the choice to give up his throne.
This one sin has proven to have massive repercussions upon Lear and the lives of those around him eventually killing almost all of those who were involved. And one is left to ask ones self if a single wrong turn can do this to Lear then what difficult corner lies ahead that may cause similar alterations in ones life. B.
The Falstaffs Ludicrous Traits Falstaff in Henry IV is a very different composition. The main character of Falstaff is clearly a prankster, and not nearly as many horrible things happen to him. Falstaff is the character we laugh at, a mock King in Henry IV. Hal is the ideal King and Falstaff is a Lord of Misrule. Up to certain point Falstaff is merely an object of pure entertainment. His character is present chiefly for the humor that arises by showing his ludicrous traits. Why should we laugh at a man with a huge belly and an appetite to match, at the way he suffers on a hot day, his cumbersome size and the liveliness of his spirit.
His timeless age and his youthful lightness of heart show his true nature. Why do we find comedy in the enormity of his lies and the suddenness of their exposure and frustration. The contrast between his reputation and his real character, seen most absurdly when, at the mere mention of his name, a rebel surrenders to him. What is it about Falstaff that causedus to laugh at these and many such things? Here we have them poured out in endless profusion and with that air of careless ease which is so fascination in Shakespeare. But while they are quite essential to the character, there is much more than just fun in him. These things by themselves do not explain why, besides laughing at Falstaff, we are made happy by him and laugh with him. But while they are quite essential to the character, there is an ugly side of Falstaff, but we overlook it in light of his great humor.
C. The Differences and Similarities in them The two compositions have humorous parts in them but both are distinctly different. Falstaff in Henry IV is clearly a comedy with almost all the traits of a comedy while King Lear is a sad character. Falstaff and King Lear are somewhat dissimilar. King Lear deals with all of the problems from one of his actions-abdication of his throne. Falstaff deals with the situations surrounding the prince and he can take different paths with his life.
The two characters share a troubled past and an even more troubling future but that is the extent of their similarity. Compared to King Lear who is extremely unhappy and is on a quest to regain his happiness which is ultimately impossible, Falstaff™s indulgences cause him to slowly lose his life and alienate the people around him. Like King Lear they both lose possessions along their journey. They are alike in many ways but take different ways to meet their ends.
Their experiences are different but their end is the same. ?. The Several Aspects of Falstaffs Character What draws us in and makes us like Falstaff? If you ask what he enjoys, no doubt the answer is, first and foremost, eating and drinking, then relaxing at the inn with his other merry friends and companions. These things are what really matter to Falstaff. Falstaff™s indulgences cause him to slowly lose his life and alienate the people around him. This is perhaps the most substantial comic character that ever was invented. Falstaff carries a most portly presence in the minds eye, and in him, not to speak it profanely, “we behold the fullness of the spirit of wit and humor bodily.” We are as well acquainted with his person as his mind, and his jokes come upon us with double force and relish from the quantity of flesh through which they make their way, as he shakes his fat sides with laughter, or “lards the lean earth as he walks along.” Other comic characters seem, if we approach and handle them, to resolve themselves into air, “into thin air”, but this is embodied and palpable to the grossest apprehension: it lies “three fingers deep upon the ribs,” it plays about the lungs and the diaphragm with all the force of animal enjoyment. His body is like a good estate to his mind, from which he receives rents and revenues of profit and pleasure in kind, according to its extent and the richness of the soil. Wit is often a meager substitute for pleasurable sensation, an effusion of bad temper and petty spite at the comforts of others, from feeling none in itself. Falstaffs wit is an emanation of a fine constitution; an exuberance of good-humor and good-nature; an overflowing of his love of laughter and good-fellowship; a giving vent to his hearts ease, and over-contentment with himself and others. He would not be in character, if he were not so fat as he is, for there is the greatest keeping in the boundless luxury of his imagination and the pampered self-indulgence of his physical appetites.
He manures and nourishes his mind with jests, as he does his body with sack and sugar. He has jokes with others, as he would eat capon or a haunch of venison. His tongue drops fatness, and in the chambers of his brain “it snows of meat and drink”. He keeps up perpetual holiday and open house, and we live with him in a round, of invitations to a rump steak.
Yet we are not to suppose that he was a mere sensualist. All this is as much in imagination as in reality. His sensuality does not occupy and dull his other faculties, but “ascends me into the brain, clears away all the dull, crude vapors that environ it, and makes it full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes.
” His imagination keeps up the fat body after his senses have done with it. He seems to have even a greater enjoyment of the freedom from restraint, of good cheer, of his ease, of his vanity, in the ideal exaggerated description which he gives of them, than in fact. He never fails to enrich his discourse with allusions to eating and drinking, but we never see him at table. He carries his own kitchen about with him, and he is “a tun”. His pulling out the bottle in the field of battle is a joke to show his contempt for glory accompanied with danger, his systematic adherence to his Epicurean philosophy in the most trying circumstances. Again, such is his deliberate exaggeration of his own vices, that it does not seem quite certain whether the account of his hostesss bill, found in his pocket, with such an out-of-the-way charge for capons and sack with only one half penny-worth of bread, was not put there by himself as a trick to humor the jest upon his favorite propensities, and as a conscious caricature of himself.
He is represented as a liar, a braggart, a coward, a glutton, etc., and yet we are not offended but delighted with him, for he is all these as much to amuse others as to gratify himself. He openly assumes all these characters to show the humorous part of them. The unrestrained indulgence of his own ease, appetites, and convenience, has neither malice nor hypocrisy in it. In a word, he is an actor in himself almost as much as upon the stage, and we no more object to the character of Falstaff in a moral point of view than we should think of bringing an excellent comedian, who should represent him to the life.
We only consider the number of pleasant lights in which he puts certain weaknesses (the more pleasant as they are opposed to the received rules and necessary restraints of society), and do not trouble ourselves about the consequences resulting from them, for no mischievous consequences do result. Falstaff is old as well as fat, which gives a melancholy retrospective tinge to the character, and by the disparity between his inclinations and his capacity for enjoyment, makes it still more ludicrous and fantastical. The secret of Falstaffs wit is, for the most part, a masterly presence of mind, an absolute self-possession, which nothing can disturb. His repartees are involuntary suggestions of his self-love; instinctive evasions of everything that threatens to interrupt the career of his triumphant jollity and self-complacency. His very size floats him out of all his difficulties in a sea of rich conceits, and he turns round on the pivot of his convenience, with every occasion and at a moments warning. His natural repugnance to every unpleasant thought or circumstance, of itself makes light of objections, and provokes the most extravagant and licentious answers in his own justification. His indifference to truth puts no check upon his invention.
The more improbable and unexpected his contrivances are, the more happily does he seem to be delivered of them, the anticipation of their effect acting as a stimulus to the gaiety of his fancy. The success of one adventurous sally gives him spirits to undertake another thing, and his exaggerations and excuses are “open, palpable, monstrous as the father that begets them.” His dissolute carelessness of what he says discovers itself in the first dialogue with the Prince.
B. The Romanticism of the Falstaffs Character C. The Realistic Meanings of Falstaffs Character The ideas which I have formed concerning the courage and military character of the dramatic Sir John Falstaff, are so different from those which I find generally to prevail in the world, that I shall take the liberty of stating my sentiments on the subject, in hope that some person as unengaged as myself, will either correct and reform my error in this respect, or, joining himself to my opinion, remedy me from, what I may call, the reproach of singularity. I am to avow that I do not clearly discern that Sir John Falstaff deserves to bear the character so generally given him of an absolute coward, in other words, that I do not conceive Shakespeare ever meant to make cowardice an essential part of his constitution. I know how universally the contrary opinion prevails, and I know what respect and deference are due to the public voice. But if to make an avowal of this singularity, I add all the reasons that have led me to it, and acknowledge myself to be wholly in the judgment of the public, I shall hope to avoid the censure of too much forwardness or indecorum. It must, in the first place, be admitted that the appearances in this case are singularly strong and striking. We see this extraordinary character, almost in the first moment of our acquaintance with him, involved in circumstances of apparent dishonor; and we hear him familiarly called coward by his most intimate companions.
We see Falstaff, on occasion of the robbery at Gads-Hill, in the very act of running away from the Prince and Poins, and we behold him, on another of more honorable obligation, in open day light, in battle, and acting in his profession as a Soldier, escaping from Douglas even out of the world as it were; pretending death, and deserting his very existence; and we find him on the former occasion, betrayed into those lies and boastful words, which are the usual concomitants of coward in military action, and pretenders to valor. At last but not least, Falstaff is an excellent talker and also well versed. He expresses his ideas through his words and action. Falstaff presents many harsh, realistic ideas in the play. These ideas are balanced with his good nature.
Falstaff is a lovable character and invokes deep emotions in the reader. Since Falstaffs views invokes thought in the reader. Through their contrast to the other nobles views, and since pain is used to balance his views, Falstaff invoked “thoughtful sadness” in the reader. This is an important quality in many literary works. ?.The Results into Character of Falstaff A. The Knight History and Social Background Most people usually consider that individual characters have two aspects. The one is the actions in reality which often reflect the human beings™ practice, the another is motive of actions which represent the mental movement. So discussing the personal characters should be research the psychology. The characters is a pursuing system and this kind of pursing system is motive power that forces the human being to do something for themselves and others, which distinguish the human beings from animals. Animals live and regulate themselves to adopt the nature by inbuilt ability no matter how it changes, while the human beings often want to overcome and control the nature heart and soul, and do always feel unsatisfied and try to do their best to change their living condition and reform the world. So from above evidences, the psychologists regard the characters of human beings as formed by two basic requirements, which are nature purpose and cultural purpose.
For instance, though Falstaff is a knight and has decent status, in order to live and get the love he has to talk big, tell lies and often be teased by others. Without those things, the characters of Falstaff cannot make a deep impression in people™s mind. Conclusion “But character from the readers. This is because