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Henry 4, Part 1 Characters

Falstaff is an extremely fat, lying, thieving, cowardly, drunken, and utterly shameless rogue with a talent for telling tales and rationalizing his actions. 

He is very fond of Prince Harry, who seeks out his company, and who can match him in battles of wit, along with being one of the only people to ever poke through his lies. Harry’s protection allows Falstaff to get away with a great deal, and he hopes that when the lad becomes King this will continue. His tales get bigger and bigger the more he tells them, but when challenged he generally finds a way to climb out of the hole he has dug himself into. He is addicted to sack, of which he consumes a monstrous amount. He never pays his bills. Some of his rationalizations on the matter of bravery will appear to be merely common sense: he presents a contrasting view of the world to the one that rules Hotspur, Douglas, Blunt and the rest of the warriors in this play. A realist who is always on the lookout for ways to make money, he attempts to draft rich people into the King’s army, being perfectly aware that they will buy their way out of this, and then recruits the poorest and most useless people as soldiers, being perfectly aware that their only purpose in the battle is to be killed. He does not look forward to fighting, leads his soldiers to the death, and makes sure he has a bottle of booze on him in the middle of the battle. He plays dead to avoid being killed by Douglas, but then revives and attempts to boast that he killed Hotspur, whom he claims wasn’t quite dead yet. He uses self-mockery as one of his endearing qualities, and to a certain extent plays the role of Harry’s court jester. His further adventures are chronicled in Henry IV, Part Two.


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