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Shakespeare: Henry IV, Part I

4. Harry Hotspur

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About this Lecture


In this module, we focus on the character of Henry Percy, or Harry Hotspur, thinking in particular about his concern with honour, but also on the more human aspects of his character—not least his sense of humour.


In this course, Professor John Roe (University of York) explores Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I. The course begins by introducing the tetralogy as a whole (Richard II—Henry IV, Part I—Henry IV, Part II—Henry V), before focusing on the play’s four major characters: King Henry himself; his son, Prince Hal; the antagonist, Harry Hotspur; and Sir John Falstaff. In the final module, we turn to the language of the play—specifically, the use of paradiastoly, the rhetorical device by which a negative (e.g. cowardice) is reframed as a positive (e.g. prudence).


John Roe is a professor in Renaissance literature and a member of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (CREMS) at the University of York. He took a BA (subsequently MA) in English Literature at the University of Cambridge and an MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Comparative Literature, mainly English and Italian, has remained a keen interest, which shows principally in his monograph Shakespeare and Machiavelli. He has taught at York since 1973. Before that he taught at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and at Harvard. During his time at York he has enjoyed long sojourns at universities in other countries, for example, at the University of the Saarland in Germany, at Kyoto University, Doshisha University, and Kobe Jogakuin, in Japan; and most recently a year as the visiting Gillespie Professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Roe, J. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: Henry IV, Part I - Harry Hotspur [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Roe, John. "Shakespeare: Henry IV, Part I – Harry Hotspur." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,