Категория: Литература


Автор: Ся Сяодун

Социальная этика в пьесах «Генри IV» и «Генри V» Шекспира

Ся Сяодун

старший преподаватель, Институт иностранных языков Шэньянского политехнического университета,


Шекспир — писатель, обладающий сознательной моралью. Его многочисленные исторические пьесы показывают, что он обеспокоен нравственными проблемами общества. В пьесах он ясно демонстрирует свою социальную этику на императора, порядок, честь, добро, зло и так далее. В статье сделан глубокий анализ пьес "Генриха IV" и "Генриха V" с точки зрения этической литературной критики, и изучается социальная этика Шекспира об императоре, порядке, чести, добре, зле и так далее.

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Shakespeare is the most excellent writer in the world literature history, and the representative who has the Humanism thinking during English Renaissance. His works have a huge influence on many writers and readers. Shakespeare create 37 plays, ten of which are history plays: Henry VI (Part I, Part II, Part III), Richard III, Henry IV (Part I, Part II), Richard II, Henry V, The Life and Death of King John, Henry VIII. Most of history plays are created during 15901600. Following the emperors of different periods, the history plays of Shakespeare show 350 years history of English from The House of Plantagenet, The House of Lancaster, The House of Tudor. The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland written by Raphael Holinshed and The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and York written by Edward Hall provides abundant materials for Shakespeare when he creates history plays.

Henry IV isthe representative of Shakespeare&s history plays, the play don&t only describes the royal lives but also tells the lives of common people. The content of the play is abundant, colorful, and has profound meaning. The play focuses on Prince Hal, who is bohemian, and doesn&t attend to his proper duties at first, but gradually changes into a king who has courage, wisdom, brave, and decisive. In the play, Shakespeare shows his views on what kind of qualities a good emperor must have. Unlike Shakespeare&s other history plays, there are only a few plots on the king, Henry IV in Henry IV.Brave Hal, hedonistic Falstaff, supercilious and self-conceited Hotspur are important roles in the play. Henry V tells how king makes country become strong and prosperous.

Shakespeare&s Social Ethics on Order

Order "means components are arranged systematically, organically in order to reach the normal running or good external situational] In many countries, about their culture, people pay more attention to order, highly abiding by order, and think abiding by order is the basic of keeping society steady. In Henry IV, according to hereditary order, Henry IV has no chance to be a king. During Richard II is a king, with the help of other aristocrats, Henry IV usurps the throne by the murder. Because Henry IV usurps the throne instead of inheriting the throne by the legal order, after he becomes a king, his heart is full of the sense of guilt on morality. He even considers it a vengeance that Prince Hal ignores his duties. The foreign forces and domestic feudal aristocrats wage

to turn traitor with the excuse that Henry IV violates order. The era when Henry IV governs the country is called turbulent era. Henry IV is extremely worried, and worries about domestic and foreign situation. His son is bohemian. Henry IV always concerns about a lot of things all days. Henry IV falls in the situation where he can&t fall asleep every night, and his body is from bad to worse, at last he has to give up to the throne. In Henry V, Prince Hal inherits the throne according to the order. The behavior of Prince Hal abide by the normal order. Prince Hal is wise, sage, brave, and has a great strategic sense. Under his government, the order of the society is steady.

"It seems like that Shakespeare don&t support for the behavior of usurping the throne, &legal& hereditary system is his ideal. Anyone who obtain the throne by the improper ways according to people is punished."[2,C,86]Shakespeare thinks that reasonable order mustn&t be broken; Obtaining the throne by breaking the normal order is to violate the morality; keeping the reasonable society order is the precondition of having a prosperous country and people having a happy life.

Shakespeare&s Social Ethics on Honor

In terms of honor, different people have different opinions. In Henry IV, Prince Hal, Falstaff , hotspur have three different social ethics on honor. Falstaff is a very special role in Henry IV. He pursues temporal happiness. He does nothing except eating and drinking. He is bohemian and pursues the hedonism. Falstaff likes boasting, at the same time he is very timid. He always boasted that he himself is very brave. Falstaff pretends to die or chooses to flee when he meets the dangerous situation in the battles. Falstaff thinks that life exceeds any honor, honor is external, abstract concept, honor is just like air, and it isn&t worthwhile to pursue honor. Hotspur is a wise, brave knight. He is very good at fighting and has a lot of victories. He is trying his best to pursue his own honor. Hotspur thinks that his own honor exceeds his own life. He gets serious hurt when he is in a battle, and he is very sad. But what he worries about is not his own life, what he cares about is to lose the honor. Hotspur is very valiant in the battles where he can obtain honor.

He doesn&t cooperate with others when he is in the battle. He thinks that if he doesn&t cooperate with other people , he can obtain more own honor. The honor he pursues can be considered as the personal interests and personal rights. Compared with country honor, Hotspur pays more attention to individual honor. Falstaff considers honor as something worthless. Hotspur extremely pursues honor. Compared with them, Prince Hal& s attitude towards honor is very rational. In the beginning of the play, Prince Hal ignores his own duties, hangs around with Falstaff all day long. But Prince Hal also wants to pursue honor. Prince Hal doesn&t regard the pursuit of honor as a goal. Only if we finish country interests, safeguard country honor, can individual honor be meaningful. Facing up to the situation where the country is in trouble, Prince Hal who

shoulders the responsibility for the country immediately discard the comfortable life. Prince Hal is trying his best to shoulder the responsibility for the country. He fights a battle for the destiny of the country and eliminates the betray, obtain a lot of honor. Prince Hal can connect his responsibility with his honor, and always thinks the country honor exceeds the individual honor.

The endings of Hotspur and Falstaff are tragic, Shakespeare doesn&t agree with Hotspur and Fal-staff&s social ethics on honor. Shakespeare supports for Prince Hal&s rational social ethics on honor. Shakespeare thinks that if one blindly and extremely pursues honor all the time, he is bound to have tragic ending; the one who ignores the honor is going to idle away his life; honor should be closely connected with the responsibility; one must try one&s best to work hard for the country&s prosperity, because of that the honor one obtains is worthwhile and meaningful; there are conflicts between individual honor and national honor, at this moment individual must give up the honor and put national honor first.

3.Shakespeare&s Social Ethics on Emperor

There are many emperor images in Shakespeare&s history plays such as gloomy Henry IV, wise and rational Henry V, brutal Richard III. In Henry IV, Henry IV can actively keep a harmonious relationship with aristocrats and the masses before being a king, which is the one of factors of him being a king successfully. After being a king, when he meets the rebel forces from the aristocrats. First the way Henry IV uses is the negotiation instead of using military forces to solve the question. Being a king, the gloomy character, bad psychological quality of Henry IV results in his failure. Henry IV obtains a king by usurping the throne. After being a king, he always has a sense of guilt in his heart. He always concerns about everything, which results in the fact that he can&t fall asleep, and his body is becoming worse and worse. At last, he has to let Prince Hal take the throne. At an early age, Henry V pursues pleasure. But when the country face up to the dangerous situation where internal chaos happen, Prince Hal with a high sense of danger immediately gives up the comfortable life. Prince Hal shoulders the responsibility. Prince Hal is very brave and skillful in battle, and defeats the rebel military forces, which makes the country restore to steady and peaceful situation. Henry V has good virtues and a high sense of responsibility. When his father falls into the trouble situation, regardless of his own danger, he risks his life to rescue his father. When his father is seriously ill, he plans to try his best to defend the throne his father desperately obtains from now on. Henry V respects the masses, and is willing to listen to what the masses say. Henry V is very forgiving and deal with some questions fairly. When Henry IV is a king, the chancellor sentences Prince Hal to be guilt. Prince Hal is put in prison. But Prince Hal don&t hate the chancellor. When Prince Hal becomes a king, he deals with questions fairly. Henry V thinks that the chancellor is very excellent and puts the chancellor in an important position. Prince Hal does not only have good virtues, but also has talents

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0and extraordinary military ability. When fighting with France, Henry V is very intelligent and skillful in battle, and defeats the France, obtains the victory, defends the country&s interests, and makes the country become more powerful. Prince Hal is very rational and always pays more attention to the country&s interests. Henry V discards Falstaff. From individual emotions, the behaviour of Henry V is not right. But from the whole country&s interests, the behaviour of Henry V is very rational.

"In Henry V, we can know that Shakespeare yearns for excellent emperor" [3,C, 100] Shakespeare thinks that only excellent emperor can make country peaceful and prosperous; first, excellent emperor must has a high sense of responsibility and the consciousness of danger; next, excellent emperor must has good virtues, and can deal with questions fairly, can keep harmonious relationship in the country and abroad; military ability is also important quality excellent emperor must possess; Shakespeare emphasizes that excellent emperor must be very rational in works.

Shakespeare&s Social Ethics in "Henry IV" and "Henry V"

Xia Xiaodong

Shenyang Ligong University

Shakespeare is a litterateur who has morality conscious. His many history plays show that he concerns about the moral issues of society. Shakespeare clearly demonstrates his social ethics on emperor, order, honor, good, evil and so on. The paper makes a deep analysis of Henry IV and Henry V in the perspective of Ethical Literary Criticism, and studies out Shakespeare&s social ethics on emperor, order, honor, good, evil and so on.


1.https://baike.so.com/doc/5681876-5894551.html (дата обращения: 16. 06. 2019) .
2. Luo Yimin. Angel of Vice, Angel of Virtue — Henry IV and Shakespeare&s Concept of A Monarch.[J]. Journal of School of Chinese Language and Culture Nanjing Normal University, 2003:86.
3. Nie Zhenzhao, Du juan, Tang Hongmei, Zhu Weihong. English

Literature in the Perspective of Ethical Literary Criticism[M]. Wuhan: Central China Normal University Press, 2007.

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