Sunday, June 17, 2012

A happy thing

Why, ’tis a happy thing
To be the father unto many sons.
3 Henry VI

I keep losing track of the days, so it's nice to have Facebook to remind me that today is Father's Day. So I'd better add "Call Dad" to today's to-do list!

One of the major things on my list today is to finish textual notes for 1 & 2 Henry IV for next spring's round of the Kingship Cycle. Between Hal, Falstaff, and King Henry and it being Father's Day, I'm going to have dads on my mind a lot today. And I'm sure we'll be running Hamlet lines today, so there's another one!

Fathers and sons are so prevalent in Shakespeare's plays, and to be frank, not something I've given a great deal of thought to. This is about to change, however! These relationships (especially in the history plays) are profoundly troubled. Hal struggles with living up to his father's expectations, actively spoiling the view his father sees of him. Falstaff stands in as an alternate father figure, but which father's approval does Hal actually seek? Either? Both? At the end of 2 Henry IV (V.ii), Hal speaks about how he hopes he shall behave when he becomes a father and has a son like himself and how grateful he is to have the Lord Chief Justice to aid him when he does.

Prince You are right Justice, and you weigh this well:Therefore still bear the Balance, and the Sword:And I do wish your Honors may increase,Till you do live, to see a Son of mineOffend you, and obey you, as I did.So shall I live, to speak my Father’s words:Happy am I, that have a man so bold,That dares do Justice, on my proper Son;And no less happy, having such a Son,That would deliver up his Greatness so,Into the hands of Justice. You did commit me:For which, I do commit into your hand,Th’ unstainèd Sword that you have us’d to bear:With this Remembrance; That you use the sameWith the like bold, just, and impartial spiritAs you have done ‘gainst me. There is my hand,You shall be as a Father, to my Youth:My voice shall sound, as you do prompt mine ear,And I will stoop, and humble my Intents,To your well-practis’d, wise Directions.
If you are lucky enough to have your father in your life, give him a call or a hug today and let him know you're thinking of him. I'll be doing the same. Happy Father's Day!

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