09 October 2008

Shakespeare Rationale 1 Henry IV 2.4 lines 19-84: Passionate Discourse and Hurt Feelings (Shakespeare)

The context of the moment is very important in the scene. If, the reader had not been allowed to read the letter along with Hotspur, the emotion of the scene would have been different. The interaction between Hotspur and his wife becomes an intriguing one because of the context. In Act 2.4, after Hotspur reads the letter, it is obvious that he is spirited and he is preparing for battle. He states, “Hang him! Let him tell the King we are prepared; I will set forward tonight” (1207). Then his wife, Lady Percy, enters the room and the mood changes immediately. He informs her of his need to leave their home within hours. Lady Percy begins addressing him in a sweet and seductive manner. She asks, “For what offence have I this fortnight been a banished woman from my Harry’s bed?” The language of the text changes; it seems as if her address is to be read as poetry, not prose. She seems to speak to him in a loving manner at this point of the dialogue. I imagine that she is touching or stroking him in some manner. There definitely should be body contact in order for the message to be made clearer. Hotspur does not acknowledge her pleas for him to stay home. Instead, he calls for the servant. Then, she asks him to hear what she is saying. She states, “But hear you, my lord.” Only then does he acknowledge her, he asks, “What sayst thou, my lady?” I believe he is a bit annoyed by her questions and he lies to her. Then abruptly the mood changes. This should be reflected in the stage lighting as well, in order to bring attention to the next transactions in dialogue. Lady Percy no longer acts as a lady. She knows that her husband is lying. Her tone changes. She remarks, “Out, you mad-headed ape!...In faith, I’ll know your business, Harry, that I will.” Her body language as well as her voice must change in order to highlight her discontent. Next, she calls him on his lie and states the real reason that he is leaving. She states, “I fear my brother Mortimer…hath sent for you to line his enterprise.” Then, she threatens him, she argues, “…but if you go---.” Next she degrades him, by saying, “Come, come, you paraquito, answer me.” It is an insult. She knows Hotspur is often hot tempered and speaks when he should not. She is calling him out on his weaknesses of character. Moreover, she makes another threat. She remarks, “In faith, I’ll break thy little finger, Harry, An if thou will not tell me all things true.” The statement can be a threat and insult. The threat of disfiguring his “manhood”, but the insult of calling his “manhood” little. Finally, Hotspur reacts in a violent manner. He barks, “Away, away, you trifler! Love? I love thee not, I care not for thee, Kate.” He responds in a manner that he hopes would injure her in some fashion. Whether she shows any reaction to his assault would be an indicator of her true nature. Is she hurt, or is she unshaken? That is an important question.

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