Monday, March 3, 2008

Much Ado About Falstaff

Sir John Falstaff is everyone's favorite slacker, glutton, sleaze, big mouth, pervert, do-nothing, idiot, coward and Shakespearian character. He would be the equivalent of the "dumb best buddy," the bloke convincing you to do just about anything stupid such as flinging toilet paper on the neighbor's house.
Despite being a knight, Falstaff displays the chivalry of a drunken tavern patron. Rather than indulging in good deeds, the fat knight "lives" to his fullest. He drinks, he lechers, he overeats and manipulates Hal into performing asinine activities. Falstaff appears to bring out Hal's worse side, the childish side that King Henry IV despises. This could be Shakespeare's way of showing Hal's irresponsible, reluctant side through Falstaff himself.
Hotspur, Hal's polar opposite, would be raging with a blade about Falstaff's statement of honor. According to Falstaff, honor is valuable as plain dirt:
“Can honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. . . . What is honour?”
If Falstaff is such a loser, why does he endure throughout the years as one of the most memorable Shakespeare characters of all time?
Sure, being with the obese knight may not be fun. But watching Falstaff hearing his outrageous speeches is a treat to behold. Like Shylock, Falstaff escape's Shakespeare's pen, almost taking reign of King Henry IV and the attention of the struggling protagonist, Prince Hal.
Interestingly enough, Falstaff was inspired by an English soldier named John Fastolf, who is described of bragging and being a coward. It was enough to inspire Falstaff as a rotund loudmouth.

If Falstaff had a large appetite of being on stage, he would practically be a large bowling ball with the attention fed to him. Several actors have claimed to have fun portraying the fat knight.
One prime example would be Orson Welles, whose immortality was acquired through the classic movie Citizen Kane. Welles has worked with Shakespeare's other plays such as Macbeth and Twelth Night.

Falstaff is memorable in that his type of persona would exist today. He would represent all the vices we all get into. In a way, as we laugh at Falstaff, we laugh at ourselves.

- Kristopher

No comments: