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Sir John Falstaff
His brilliant wit and contagious high spirits make it easy to ignore his faults. He is so gifted that the audience can never really believe that he is a representative of disorder. He appears to be always a rebel against seriousness and authority. Though fat and with a white bread, he has the energy and enthusiasm of youth. Falstaff’s impudent and highhanded behavior towards the Chief Justice shows his attitude toward law. He has a high opinion of himself and thinks that “a good wit will make use of anything.”
Falstaff’s art of recruiting soldiers shows his capabilities as a royalist leader and recruiting officer. His art of selection is based on the spirit of the recruit and not the appearances. He encourages his men to accept bribes for the release of the recruits. His high-flown style and his flair for literary elegance and allusion is displayed in his soliloquy on the marvelous qualities of wine and the benefits of drinking.
In the last part of the play, Falstaff is rejected by the new King, Hal. Even then, the dejected, astonished knight keeps up his self-control. He is business-like, regretful, humiliated, stoic, and broken-hearted.
He is a serious, sober, dedicated man intent on the restoration of law and order. In the scenes where he confronts Falstaff, he serves as a critic and foil to the latter. He serves the King with due respect and loyalty. After the death of the King, he says that he too should have joined the King in death. This shows his loyalty to the King and also to Justice. He thinks that he will be dismissed by the new King, because they were not in good terms. Henry V has only praise for the legal officer and asks him to continue to serve the country. The King welcomes the wise counsel of this man whom he calls “father of his youth.” The Justice becomes one of the strong supports of a King determined to uphold the law.
Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, tells the miserable King not worry about the young Prince’s frivolous habits and irresponsible nature because the Prince is actually getting himself prepared for his kingship by mixing freely with people from all levels of the society. Once he takes up the reins of the country he is sure to change. The most notable part is that only Warwick predicts anything good about Hal to the King. He has only optimistic visions and says that the King is sure to recover.