So as I mentioned some time ago, I struggled to get through Henry IV Part 1 and 2. Even though I was supposed to read it at uni, I really was not a fan, and just couldn’t finish them. But now I’ve finally got through the whole thing and I have to say I AM NOT OK WITH THAT ENDING!! Goddamn you William Shakespeare for making me feel like this!!
(Apologies cos I’m about to get a little ranty and spoilery)
Because you cannot stab Falstaff in the back like that- it is not okay! No, just no. Of course it makes sense and was realistic that a king would act like that- but I just couldn’t bear to see it unfold. Especially after the hope Falstaff had expressed that they would have a king who was finally on his side- only to have said king stab him in the back!
Of course it was realistic that a king would do something like that. In fact, it speaks volumes about the divide between the aristocracy and the poor. At the end of the day, the poor were just there to be ridiculed and were not to be taken seriously. Much like Shakespeare’s other work, the lower classes were just there to be mocked. They are seen as lesser people on a lower rung of society. It is a tragic indictment of the society Shakespeare lived in. No matter how funny Shakespeare gets, there’s often something sinister going on under the surface.
When you see this cruelty played out in Henry IV you finally get to see the harshness of Shakespeare’s universe. In the moment when Falstaff is cast aside laughter turns to tears. What could have been such a joyous, triumphant moment ends up leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. Because the reality of the play is too harsh for words.
And that is the power of Shakespeare- even 400 years after his death- he has the ability to get under your skin as if he wrote it yesterday. The drama of it is insanely accurate- which is a true testament to his genius.
Okay, so I know that was fairly ranty and had little to do with the play as a whole, but I just had to get that off my chest. Do you ever feel like that about books? And who’s your favourite non-contemporary author that just taps into your feelings perfectly? Let me know in the comments!
And, just to let you know, I’m posting my results for the Shakespeare Awards tomorrow, so today’s your last chance to vote on your fave Shakespeare plays!