Heroic and chivalric values in Shakespeare : a critical study of the first and second parts of Henry IV, Henry V and Troilus and Cressida


Boogerd, Jan




One of Shakespeare's concerns, expressed in his plays, is the nature of honour. The discussion of honour inevitably involves an examination of heroic and chivalric values, particularly in the histories. Shakespeare is critical of those values and proposes another value system. The development of honour is one of the major themes in The First Part of Henry IV. Hal, the future king cf England, does not choose heroic honour and, in the course of his subsequent development in The Second Part of Henry IV and in Henry V, he consistently chooses non-heroic, non-chivalric values to guide his behaviour. The rejection of heroism and chivalry is not complete in these plays but in Troilus and Cressida this rejection is total and merciless. To provide an alternative to the kind of honour possible in heroic and chivalric cultures, Shakespeare advocates a different cultural attitude which would force a redefinition of honour.


Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation




Carleton University

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