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Reasons Why I Dislike Falstaff

Roger Allam as Falstaff, who, to be honest, is much
more likeable than the Hollow Crown one.
I understand well enough that Falstaff is a funny comic character, that he provides more jokes than any other character in whole Shakespeare's canon except Hamlet, if those gloomy jokes are still counted as jokes. I also understand how he's an important character because he promotes the view so different than those considered as virtuous in his era. Nevertheless, I never consider him as a likeable character, no matter how much I laugh on him in the two Henry IV plays.

It's just that he's such a bad friend to Prince Hal. And my term "bad friend" means neither "a friend who robs and steals and pickpockets every once in a while" nor "an indifferently good man who doesn't really care about you" which would make him a good acquaintance. No. He takes both the negatives and combines them. Let me show you why I can't like this man despite all his witty lines.

1. He's a bad association to Hal

Like this one is not obvious enough(!). I mean, please! A robber, thief, liar, drunkard, "(saving your reverence) a whoremaster." The young prince loses not only his time, honour, and virtues by hanging around with Falstaff but also his reputation. Seriously, just being together with Falstaff at a table could stain your spotless reputation as much as a drop of ink stains a huge jar of milk. Moreover, he (jokingly, I suppose) says that Hal's the one who made him what he is. Of course nobody believes him.

Falstaff jokes all the time, even when the time is most unfit, like when Harry was desperate for weapon, or when the king was talking to his adversaries, or when Harry was about to banish him. Although he's good enough to invent his own proverb about the value of discretion, he certainly has never heard about, "There's a time for every thing."

2. He lies a LOT and always finds good excuse for it

When I say a lot it means A LOT. Also it seems he rather doesn't know the best and worst occasions or subjects to lie or lie about. The lie that I hate the most is of course when he said he killed Percy. Seeing the nature of everything, he shouldn't even consider doing that.

The ridiculousness of his excuses either moves me to laughter or makes me want to tie his feet and hang him upside down. How could anybody lie so easily, as if it were the easiest thing to d in the world? Doesn't he have any conscience?

Well, it brings us to the next point.

3. He has no standard or principle whatsoever in his life

I don't always hate villains or anti-heroes. Why? Because sometimes they stand for something greater than themselves. They sometimes have their own set of rules, their own consistent view of things. When they fall, they fall like stars - like Hotspur, like Othello, like Caesar.

But Falstaff? What does he stand for? He doesn't stand for honour; he's a shameful coward who seeks excuses for his conducts. He doesn't stand for justice, or for law; he breaks them all. Does he stand for his friends? Well, who among his friends could say, "Falstaff stood up for me"? Which brings us to our last point.

4. He doesn't really care about Hal, no matter what he says

Contrary to Falstaff's thinking, Harry doesn't owe him even a pennyworth of his love. I always believe there are two types of "friends". First is "fun friends" and Falstaff is certainly just this kind of friend. A friend to have fun with, not to share your troubles with. Teenagers usually go for this kind of friends. They just care to have fun together. They don't really expect each other to give support or encouragement or love or advice or anything. They just spend time together.

Do they care much about each other? Well... How many of those friends that we remember by name? Do we know where they are? Do we even know if they have brothers or sisters or boyfriends or girlfriends?

When in the play does Falstaff show genuine, selfless interest for Harry? He turned the news of rebellion into merriment. He lied about killing Percy - something that must be very important for Harry (I mean, please!). When Harry was at last king, all he cared about was his share in the kingdom.

Even the worst wisdom of Prince Hal can see that he has no choice but to leave this 'devil' that haunts him. No matter how much he loves Falstaff, the entirety of his brain dictates that he must cut all ties with this man, else his throne and kingdom would be in peril.

...

Alright, to be honest, this article all started with Faltaff's lying about killing Hotspur. It drives me mad. I could forgive him in everything else - except this one. For me, Harry's glory over Hotspur is so important that no one else should take it from him. Even if the Prince doesn't feel that way, he should. After all, he was the one who promised his father Percy's head earlier in the play. Maybe he does, only he doesn't have a chance to fight Falstaff even in a court. Given his reputation, his arguing with the equally bad-reputed Falstaff over Percy's body will only blacken his reputation even more. Maybe he doesn't really care, he is happy that Falstaff's alive, and he's happy that he killed Percy, thus he has proven his worth at least to himself, and of course he's happy because now he has his father's love and good opinion again. BUT STILL!


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