Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Prince Hal from Henry IV, Parts One and Two

weekly meme from The Unread Reader:
Talk about your fictional crush!

Shakespeare's Prince Hal may be an odd choice for a book boyfriend, because he's a ruthless bastard! And yet I have a soft spot for him. Maybe it's because these two plays are my favorite of Shakespeare's canon.

Hal hangs out in a tavern with a group of rogues--especially the fat, merry Falstaff--pretending to be their best buddy. But all the while he's planning to publicly dump and disown them once he becomes king. He wants to play the bad boy now so that he can awe the crowds later by miraculously transforming into a responsible monarch.

Rob James-Collier would be perfect for the bad-boy Prince Hal.
It's a cruel but clever plan--except for one problem. Whenever Hal's hanging out with his buddies, he seems to forget that he's only faking the friendship. His affection for Falstaff is painfully obvious, even when he's teasing the older man for wasting his time drinking sack (a fortified wine) and whoring. That makes for (in my humble opinion) the most intriguing bromance in Shakespeare:

Falstaff: Now Hal, what time is it lad?

 . . . What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes capons and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the signs of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.

Falstaff seems to be more than just a buddy. Since Hal doesn't get on with his royal father, he may have latched onto the gregarious older man as a substitute Dad. Or some see their relationship as almost romantic. Either way, I think Hal really does love the rogue--and, in fact, he does one incredibly generous thing for him. Hal lets Falstaff take credit for an act of bravery that he himself had performed.

A more formally attired Rob James-Collier (albeit as a footman) in Downton Abbey
But the fact that Hal genuinely loves Falstaff makes his plan to publicly dump and humiliate the guy (and the rest of their friends) seem that much crueler. The first time I read these plays, I didn't think Hal could bring himself to go through with it. And just in case you haven't read or seen them, I won't tell you if he does or he doesn't . . .


  1. Wow! Rob James-Collier does look like a prince! And I think it is okay to have a soft spot for ruthless bastards. They need love too! LOL

  2. Hmm...great pick this week! I have never heard of this actor before, but yum!

  3. Oh great pick! Love those eyes. Sometimes it is the true bad boy that captures your attention. ;)

  4. @Missie--Lol! Good point. That's how I'll justify my choice. ;)

    @Simple Love--He's a British actor, so I hadn't heard of him either until I watched Downton Abbey. (He's marvelous in that, and a real bad boy. But I've heard that he played a nice guy in a show called Coronation Street.)

    @Melissa--Thanks. He does have marvelous eyes, doesn't he? :)

  5. AnonymousMay 11, 2011

    Oh wow. Great actor pick! :)

    My Book Boyfriend