Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2011

Degree Type


Degree Program




Major Professor

Shenk, Robert

Second Advisor

Doll, Daniel

Third Advisor

Marti, Kevin


Recent scholarship has explored the “Machiavellian” actions of Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 1 ; yet the classical rhetorical pedagogy of Renaissance Britain suggests that the speeches in the play lead to a transformation in Hal that is antithetical to the emergent understanding of Hal as a great manipulator. Falstaff uses the ruse of rhetoric instructor in order to construct a classical rhetorical argument for his own ends, and Henry IV gives a passionate yet formally adept (and classically rhetorical) plea to his son in order to incite change. An analysis of Falstaff and Henry’s arguments as well as Hal’s responses provides the framework of understanding the play not as an example of what has been called “Machiavellianism” but rather as a testament to the power of what Cicero calls the "good man skilled in speaking.”


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