This young Prince starts out as a riotous, insubordinate and wild Prince, but ends up as a just and wise sovereign to the surprise of everyone, including his own family, and it is this transformation from spoiled Prince to regal King is a major part of the plot within these three plays. One would expect that Prince Hal would follow in his father’s footsteps, the overly zealous King Henry IV, but from the beginning of I Henry IV it is obvious that Prince Hal is far from being in similar character of his father. The transformation is remarkable and unexpected as will be shown in the Shakespearean dramas that tell the story of Prince Hal’s transformation into the well-loved King Henry V.
Even before the character of Prince Hal is brought on stage the audience is introduced to the character through King Henry IV. He introduces Prince Hal in frustration and embarrassment, stating, “Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him [Harry, son of Northumberland], see riot and dishonor stain the brow/ Of my young Harry” (I Henry IV 1.1.84-86) These three verses show the King’s discontent with the actions of his own son and wishing that the honorable son of Northumberland be his son instead making it obvious to the that Prince Hal does not live up to his father’s expectation.
This bears well, so that when Prince Hal does come into the picture at a tavern with a drunk, the audience does not expect anything less from the notorious Prince Hal. He sits idly by as his friends, Poins and Falstaff, talk of robbing couriers at Gadshill in the morning. As Falstaff asks, Prince Hal to join the adventure, the audience holds their breath to see if the young Prince will actually participate. The first hint that Prince Hal is not as bad as his father and others fear is found in his response “Who, I rob? I a thief? Not I, by my faith” (I Henry IV1.2.138). However, this notion of goodness and a father’s over exaggeration reemerges with the plan to rob the robbers. Prince...