One may often find that, unless you have become a literature junkie or avid theater-goer, Shakespeare’s historical plays aren’t as appreciated as they should be. An especially precious gem in the play Henry IV Part I is the tavern scene, something of a play within a play.
The focus I’d like students to understand in this play is the emotional connection to a single fast moment that may slip right by us. We tend to talk a mile a minute these days and many things, unbeknown to us, may come off offensive and hurtful; or an auditor may have a deeper emotional connection that we had no inkling of. We may have even said the most treacherous thing, possibly in a joke and what we actually did was remind them of a past that was horrible and life changing.
Some of those elements pertain to Henry IV Part I Boar’s tavern scene. The main line I would propose you focus on is “Depose Me?” It may be worth it to bring students up to speed with the history of Henry IV and Richard as to why the phrase “Depose Me” has more historical and emotional meaning to Falstaff than it does as a reference to just a change in play roles.
I would recommend students to delve and think of a time they may have offended an elder or someone they look up to like a parent figure. What is a contemporary challenge to authority like deposition? Have you ever hurt your parents to the point of tears/ verge of tears? Have you ever disappointed them in your choice of words or actions? How is this breaking the rules? Would you consider loyalty, love and/ or obedience a sign of an unspoken rule between someone you care about? Students will be asked play with giving directive actions to others to justify a personal view of their own.
In example, Susan is now in her senior year of high school and she feels as though she is past the mother and daughter bonding stage. She wants independence to show her maturity to her friends. Susan asks her mother to let her out of the car a block before her school so she can walk with her friends into the school building. Her mother agrees and drops her off a block before. What her mother may not know is that Susan’s real intention in the request for the premature stop was that Susan is embarrassed to be seen in public with her mother. Was Susan right or wrong and why? Could her actions be justifiable? Would it have been better to lie or tell the truth to her mother? What verbal action could best express Susan’s maturity?