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No, my good lord; banish Peto,
banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but for sweet Jack
Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff,
valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant
being, as he is old Jack Falstaff, banish not him
thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s
company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

∟ Henry IV Part I, 2.4

Shakespeare Sunday

“If sack and sugar be a fault,
God help the wicked! if to be old and merry be a
sin, then many an old host that I know is damned: if
to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh’s lean kine
are to be loved. No, my good lord; banish Peto,
banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but sweet Jack
Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff,
valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant,
being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him
thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s
company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.”

- William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV

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FALSTAFF

    But to say I know more harm in him than in myself,
    were to say more than I know. That he is old, the
    more the pity, his white hairs do witness it; but
    that he is, saving your reverence, a whoremaster,
    that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault,
    God help the wicked! if to be old and merry be a
    sin, then many an old host that I know is damned: if
    to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh’s lean kine
    are to be loved. No, my good lord; banish Peto,
    banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but for sweet Jack
    Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff,
    valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant,
    being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him
    thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s
    company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

PRINCE HENRY

    I do, I will.

Henry IV: Part One | Act 2, Scene 4

According to a legend...

…Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor after Elizabeth I requested “another play with Falstaff -  with Falstaff in love”.

Now I´m dogged by the image of Elizabeth, surrounded by her ladies, reading their submissions, throwing pieces of parchment into a fireplace, muttering “By my troth, ´tis so out of character”, until one of them pipes up “You could always prompt Master Shakespeare, Highness.”

Falstaff, as Prince: But to say I know more harm in him than in myself were to say more than I know. That he is old, the more the pity; his white hairs do witness it. But that he is, saving your reverence, a whoremaster, that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked. If to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damned. If to be fat is to be hated, then Pharaoh’s lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord, banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins, but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant being as he is old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s company. Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

Prince: I do, I will.

from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I, II.iv.483-499

Character Arcs: Part One--The Hal Arc

The thing that I believe drives all great stories is a substantial, quality character arc. To me, there’s two basic character arcs: The Redemption/“Hero” Arc and The Downfall/“Villain” Arc(and I use the terms “hero” and “villain” extremely causally, as I don’t believe that stories are cut and dry hero vs. villain, but that’s another story for another day). Though these arcs can be adjusted for what you desire your character’s ending to be, it’s important to know the basics before changing them. Writing Rule #1: Know the rules, then break them. 

Because I love both these arcs equally I’m giving them their own posts, and also I have way too many examples, but I’ll limit them. This post is about the “Hero” Arc, which I refer to as the Hal Arc, from Shakespeare’s character Prince Henry/Harry/Hal in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2(Yes, he stars in Henry V, but I don’t consider them the same character, mainly because of the arc). I’m going to explain how the Hal Arc works through his plotline(so, yeah, spoilers, but come on, how long have these plays been around?), but first here’s my main ideals about any arc. 

Arcs shouldn’t be wasting 50 pages showing how awful/good a character is, then have one tragic event that completely changes his/her life in a day or two. Granted, in certain, extremely well-written cases this can work, but I highly advise against it unless you know what you are doing, and are basing that idea of an arc off of one of the ones I’m about to mention.

To me, an arc is a character changing from one version of him/herself slowly through several events throughout the work of prose/poetry. And thus begins my explanation of the Hal Arc. 

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  • Falstaff. But to say I know more harm in him than in myself,
    were to say more than I know. That he is old, the 
    more the pity, his white hairs do witness it; but
    that he is, saving your reverence, a whoremaster,
    that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault,
    God help the wicked! if to be old and merry be a
    sin, then many an old host that I know is damned: if 
    to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh’s lean kine
    are to be loved. No, my good lord; banish Peto,
    banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but for sweet Jack
    Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff,
    valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant, 
    being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him
    thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s
    company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.
  • Hal. I do, I will.