«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
Falstaff s banishment symbolises and literalizes an alteration in himself:
5 The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh Based on Contemporary Documents [...] Together with his Letters ed. by Edward Edwards (London: Macmillan & Co., 1868), 2 vols., vol. 2, 51.
The King suggests that this reformation is his own work. The banishment of Falstaff and the others is the dramatic embodiment of an intangible psychological action already past. Henry is careful to represent himself as in control. Falstaff can return to being his riotous tutor only if the King has resumed his former role as pupil. If the latter does suffer a relapse it will not have been effected by Falstaff. But the relationship is not as simple as Henry implies. The identification of the knight as Hal's 'misleader' may undermine our sense of the King's exigency. It implies that he has been transformed before under this influence. Moreover, in the context of Shakespearean banishment, this sentence is uniquely personal. Even in King Lear, where a father banishes his daughter, Cordelia's expulsion from the King's sight and from his flesh is represented as an act to protect the realm from barbarism. There is no explicit suggestion in 2 Henry IV that the King is acting in the nation's interests. Rather, though Henry denies it, Falstaff s presence is a danger to his altered self.
One popular contemporary authority on the dangers of companionship was the morality play, in particular the psychomachia. 6 Ancient metaphors of companionship with sin, for example to consort with the devil, became the literal means by which man was corrupted on stage. St.
Paul admonished the Ephesians:
Let no man deceive you with vain words. For through such things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of unbelief. Be not therefore companions 6 Bernard Spivack defines this subgenre as the battle of vice and virtue for the soul of a man, characterised by its
method of personification, and its intention being moral instruction. See Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil:
The History of a Metaphor in Relation to his Major Villains (London: Oxford University Press, 1958). 60-95.
with them [...] Accept that which is pleasing to the Lord: and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: but rather rebuke them. 7 If not Satan himself, then his instrument, the Vice, sought out the fellowship of the humanum genus to corrupt him through association. The young victim was frequently characterised by his desire for fellowship. In Lusty Juventus (1550), Youth declares his love of merry society.
Hence, the Vice figure, Hypocrisy, disguises himself as Friendship, in order to 'infect him
with wicked company' (1 498).8 Bernard Spivack writes of the Vice:
The heart of his role is an act of seduction, and the characteristic stratagem whereby the Vice achieves his purpose is a vivid stage metaphor for the sly insinuation of moral evil into the human breast. 9 This possession is often explicit. In Appius and Virginia (1564), the Vice remains external but at one point Justice and Conscience are seen to emerge from Appius's body. 10 hi Enough is as Good as a Feast by W. Wager (1560), Covetous learns that Worldly Man has been converted to religion through the companionship of Enough and Heavenly Man. The Vice is threatened with banishment unless he can reverse this process (11 381-2). Hence, he advises
Temerity, Precipitation and Inconsideration to infiltrate Worldly Man:
7 Tyndale's New Testament (1534) edited by David Daniell (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989). chp. 5, 286. References to this text appeared in the morality Lusty Juventus (c. 1550) as well as Shakespeare's Henry IV plays. See 'Casting off the Old Man: History and St. Paul in Henry ir by D. J. Palmer, Crit. Q. 12 (1970), 267-83.
8 Lusty Juventus in Four Tudor Interludes ed. by J. A. B. Somerset (London: Athlone Press, 1974), 97-127, 99.
9 Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil, 152.
1° A Select Collection of Old English Plays, vol. 4, 128.
1 ' The Longer Thou Livest and Enough is as Good as a Feast by W. Wager ed. by R. Mark Benbow (London:
Edward Arnold, 1963).
If fellowship is the means by which the Vice will infect his victim, banishment consolidates his victory. The youth must be made to expel his good counsellors. As Covetous suggests, there is fierce competition for the limited attentions and favours of the would-be corrupted.
Yet banishment is also deployed at the end of the drama to punish the Vice and to secure the victim's future reformation. It is another ancient metaphor, this time for the exorcism of sin.
The protagonist of Youth (1513-4) finally casts off his tutor, Riot. In Magnificence (1515), Despair and Mischief are banished by the avenging Virtues, whilst God's Visitation expels Pleasure from Lust in The Trial of Treasure (1567). 12 In both parts of Henry IV the relationship between Hal and Sir John is described in terms of the Prodigal and the Vice. As
Henry IV, Hal warns the Prince/Falstaff:
Thou art violently carried away from grace. There is a devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man; a tun of man is thy companion. Why dost thou converse with that [...] reverend Vice, that grey Iniquity, that father Ruffian, that Vanity in Years? [...] That villainous, abominable misleader of youth, Oldcastle; that old white-bearded Satan. (220.127.116.111-68) Moreover, in pleading for his own virtues, Falstaff recognises that the fate of the Vice was often banishment. 13 He envisages that Hal will have to choose between rival counsellors, proposing 'there is virtue in that Oldcastle./ Him keep with; the rest banish' (433-4). Hal responds by promising that the Vice will indeed be banished (486) and thus anticipating the 12 Other banished vices include Gluttony and Riot in the remaining fragment of Good Order (1515), Orion and Backwinter in Thomas Nashe's Summer's Last Will and Testament (1592) and Flattery in The Three Estates (1540, rev. c. 1552).
13 Spivack also suggests that Falstaff s banishment reinforces his identification with the Vice: 'For the banishment of Falstaff and his imprisonment in the Fleet, we have to reckon with the fact that exile, imprisonment, or hanging is the standard disposition of the vices (and the Vice) in moralities from about 1530 onward', Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil, 462, n. 69.
dramatic structure he described in his soliloquy of 1.2. 14 Nevertheless, Shakespeare's characters also subvert this formulaic relationship. In Part One, Falstaff rejects his designation as the Vice and presents himself as Good Counsell and even as the Prodigal. 15 In Part Two, the Lord Chief Justice tells Falstaff that he has 'misled the youthful Prince' but Sir John insists that it is he who has been misled (18.104.22.168-6). When the Lord Chief Justice calls upon God to 'send the Prince a better companion', the knight remonstrates with: 'God send the companion a better prince! I cannot rid my hands of him' (199-202). Moreover, in Part One, Falstaff rejected the moral absolutes upon which the morality play was constructed. He argued for the tolerance of human fallibility: 'If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked...' (2.5.475-8), and attested to the good-and-bad of his own character. Hal also recognises the artifice of the psychomachia and its irrelevance to 'real life' even as he employs this convention. The Prince has claimed never to be deceived by Falstaff but it suits him to represent himself as the disingenuous prodigal. This is not only part of his 'miraculous conversion', it also protects Hal from the more dangerous inferences of his father. Without knowing his son's overall plan, the King fears that Hal's appetites reveal him to be unworthy of the throne. Henry IV does not admit the connection between his 14 On the question of the plays' morality structure, see Alan C. Dessen, 'The Intemperate Knight and the Politic Prince: Late Morality Structure in / Henry IV, Sh. St. 1 (1974), 147-71 and J. A. B. Somerset 'Falstaff, the Prince, and the Pattern of 2 Henry IV", Sh. S. 30 (1977), 35-45. It has been suggested that the reason for the apparent amnesia of Part Two, in which Hal's first reformation seems to have been forgotten, can be explained by Shakespeare's recourse to the morality structure. See H. Edward Cain. 'Further Light on the Relation of / and 2 Henry IV, Sh. 0. 3 (1952), 21-38, and Edgar T. Schell, 'Prince Hal's Second -Reformation", Sh. O. 21 (1970), 11-6.
15 For an account of the development of this theme of the Prodigal from the morality play up to 1635 see 'Terence Improved: The Paradigm of the Prodigal Son in English Renaissance Comedy' by Ervin Beck, Ren. D.
own illegal usurpation of the throne and Hal's unfitness as heir apparent. 16 He refers to some
unknown curse which now works itself out through his son:
In response, Hal prefers to play the prodigal, accepting that there may have been occasions 'wherein my youth/ Hath faulty wandered and irregular' (26-7). He would rather be thought weak-willed than essentially flawed, that is, having a real taste for small beer and flamecoloured taffeta.
Nevertheless, throughout both parts of Henry IV it is assumed that companionship rather than inherent viciousness has been the Prince's undoing. In Part One, Falstaff relates how 'an old lord of the Council' chastised him for his relationship with the Prince (1.2.83-7). In Part Two, the Lord Chief Justice confronts Falstaff with his crimes directly. Both plays are generally
concerned with the charm of companionship. Falstaff attests to his infection by Poins:
I have forsworn his company hourly any time this two-and-twenty years, and yet I am bewitched with the rogue's company. If the rascal have not given me medicines to make me love him, I'll be hanged. It could not be else: I have drunk medicines. (22.214.171.124-20) 17 16 Hugh Dickinson describes the rebels' failure to confront Henry IV with his guilt or to represent a providential revenge in The Reformation of Prince Hal', Sh. Q. 12 (1961), 33-46, 36-9. Catherine M. Shaw suggests that Henry's guilt is dealt with through the play's 'subliminal substructure' where it is displaced onto Hotspur and Falstaff, The Tragic Substructure of the Henry IV Plays', Sh. S. 38 (1985), 61-7.
17 Poins also beguiles Hal, persuading the Prince to undertake the Gads Hill exploit and serving as his confessor in both parts of Henry IV. This may derive from The Famous Victories of Henry F(1586) wherein it is Ned Poins who acts as Hal's chief companion and is promised the role of Lord Chief Justice. See D. B. Landt 'The Ancestry of Sir John Falstaff Sh. Q. 17 (1966), 69-76, for the influence of The Famous Victories, particularly in terms of characterisation.
The latter play is more concerned with the vicious consequences of association. In the tavern scene, Falstaff warns against venereal disease caught by consorting with the likes of Doll (2.4.43-5). Mistress Quickly tries to keep swaggerers out of her house for the sake of her
reputation (82-93). In 5.1, Falstaff ironically condemns Shallow's relationship with Davy:
It is certain that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is caught as men take diseases, one of another; therefore let men take heed of their company. (67It is also in this play that the Lord Chief Justice refers to Hal being separated from Falstaff on the King's orders (1.2.203-4). But if both Vice figure and Prodigal are aware of their respective roles and deny that these are anything but play-acting (the morality-play condemnation of Falstaff is satirical), then what is the danger inherent in Falstaff s company?
There seems to be little concern in either play for Hal's moral health but perhaps his spiritual condition is alluded to more darkly.
One interesting development in the morality play is its representation of the conflict between 'true' and 'false' religions rather than good and evil per se. The Vice figure, with his Satanic associations, is easily translated at this period into the embodiment of Roman Catholicism or an actual emissary of the Pope. The focus of attention shifts from the mind and soul of the individual to the corruption of a government and of a nation. John Bale's King Johan (1538.
rev. c. 1560) opens with England appealing to the King for help:
The kingdom has been infiltrated by the servants of Popery in particular Sedition, but also False Dissimulation, Vain Superstition, Private Wealth and Usurped Power. The play is concerned with corruption at a political and national level. King Johan himself is never a target for conversion. Rather, the Vice figures associate with Nobility, Civil Order and the Clergy, alienating them from their King who is excommunicated, deposed and finally poisoned. Only after Johan's death does Verity enter to rescue the kingdom. Superstition and Usurped Power will be banished, Private Wealth expelled from the monasteries and Sedition and Dissimulation will be hanged (p!41, 2441-52). Most importantly, the Pope himself will be banished. Verity says,
In this play, the reformation is figured as an act of banishment. 20 The eradication of popery through the Pope's literal expulsion is the precondition for the reunion of England with her husband, God. The banished authority of the Pope also gives rise to the appearance of 18 King Johan ed. by Barry B. Adams (San Marino: Huntington Library. 1969). 7 3. 105-14. See also Sedition's reference to the exile of true faith, p.l 19,11 1686-9.
19 Some lines later Civil Order urges Nobility and the Clergy, 'Of the Christen fa\the playe now the true defendar,/ Exyle thys monster and ravenouse devourar', 11 2427-8.
-° Shakespeare's use of banishment is in contrast wholly secular. The metaphor occurs once in King John but without specific allusion to the Pope and not at all in Henry VIII.
Imperial Majesty at the end of King Johan, figuring Henry VIII's new ecclesiastical authority.