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The Two Worlds of Prince Hal: On the Duality of Henry IV

Author YanXiaoXia
Tutor FangHanWen
School Suzhou University
Course Comparative Literature and World Literature
Keywords Shakespeare Henry IV two worlds dual discourse
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 106
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This thesis, based on the contemporary theories of Shakespearean criticism, presents a new interpretation of Shakespeare’s history 1 & 2 Henry IV. The author introduces the concept of Two Worlds in the historical context, where the leading role Prince Hal lives, explores his actions, self-consciousness and the connection among those who are in close relationship with him, and studies the characteristics of dual discourse in the play.Two Worlds are the outer world and the inner world, which refer to Hal’s social environment and his psychological space. In the context of the outer world, two interlaced lines, which are situated on the Palace and the Boar’s Head, are found with reference to the political space and the individual space. In the inner world, Hal’s dual selves, namely political self and individual self, are recognizable. Importantly, the duality is not an isolated phenomenon in the play. As a matter of fact, it also exists in the contrastive relationships between several pairs of characters - Hal and Hotspur, Hal and Henry IV, Hal and Falstaff. The duality, therefore, is a presentation of the basic characteristic of the narrative discourse.The thesis includes three parts - Introduction, Content and Conclusion. In the introductory part, the author gives a review of the studies of Henry IV and other related histories of Shakespeare, the theoretical sources of Two Worlds of Prince Hal and the purpose of this thesis. The second part, body of the thesis, is divided into four chapters. In the concluding part, the author focuses on an overall analysis of Two Worlds and the duality, attempting to explore the deep implication of Henry IV and the theories contained herein. The following is a brief introduction of the main contents of this thesis.Chapter 1 presents Prince Hal’s historical context, the outer world, where the tension produced by the two interlaced lines is displayed. The two lines are also two spaces- the Palace which signifies the power of the nation and the Boar’s Head which signifies the folk and secular space. This part also includes the comparison of a pair of characters, Hal and Hotspur in the outer world, who are heroes of different types.Chapter 2 deals with Hal’s complicated self-consciousness in the inner world and the split of his psychological world. There are two selves in Hal’s inner world - the political self and the individual self. The critical character Falstaff is seen as an exteriorization of Hal’s individual self.Chapter 3, the Order and the Chaos in Two Worlds, is to discuss the relationship between Two Worlds and the comparisons between other important characters and Hal. The later is two fathers of Hal- the King Henry and Falstaff, who are also two mirror images in politics and personality. The chapter also includes a discussion of the structure and possibilities of Hal’s two worlds.Chapter 4 is about the fiction and truth of the two worlds. In this chapter, the author introduces the meta-drama theory into my article to analyse the role playing of Hal and analyse their functions for expositing the inner significance in Henry IV. As the duality lies in other elements of Henry IV, the role playing of Prince Hal also presents a picture of duality, that is, the role playing in life and the play-within-a-play on stage. The dually fictional spaces lead the audience to the dramatic truth.The present study is based on parts 1 & 2 Henry IV, focusing on the character Prince Hal. The author proposes and interprets the theory of Two Worlds, and makes analyses in four dimensions- outer, inner, interactive and fictional. Moreover, through discussing the interaction between the social context and the psychological consciousness, the author explains the dialectical relationship between the narrative discourse of the text and the social context.In this thesis, the author tries to offer a relatively new interpretation of Shakespeare’s history Henry IV and hopes to get more academic advice from experts.

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