The Conflict Bet. the Public and the Private in Henry V

The Conflict between the Public and the Private in Henry V

As the title suggests, in this essay I would like to analyse the public and the private lives of the character Henry V, and to be more specific I will try to answer the following question: in becoming king, did Henry lose all affection for the companions of his youth or does he simply feel that, as king, he must sacrifice private inclination to public duty? And in my attempt to find an explanation to this matter I will take into consideration: his rejection of Falstaff, his statements to and treatment of the traitors, the hanging of Bardolph, his famous speech to the troops before the battle of Agincourt, his wooing of Catherine, and his ‘ceremony’ monologue.
We first ‘meet’ Falstaff in the first part of Henry IV, as the Prince Harry’s (the later Henry V) closest friend among the crew of vagrants and other shady characters, as a sort of substitute father figure. Falstaff is a worldly and fat old man who steals and lies for a living. Falstaff is also an extraordinarily witty person who lives with great gusto. Harry claims that his spending time with these men is actually part of a scheme on his part to impress the public when he eventually changes his ways and adopts a more noble personality. King Henry is very disappointed in his son; it is common knowledge that Harry, the heir to the throne, conducts himself in a manner unbefitting royalty.
In the second part of Henry IV, the same old, fat, lazy, selfish, dishonest, corrupt, thieving, manipulative, boastful, and lecherous man, now an army captain. He drinks in a London tavern and travels around the countryside to recruit young men to serve the army in the upcoming battles. Prince Hal, meanwhile, knowing that he will have to take the reins of power when his father dies, has vowed to change his ways and become responsible. He has started to spend less time with his old friends.
After his father’s death the prince tells the Lord Chief Justice, the...