Quick! Did He Mean It?

Ok, here’s a question.  I’ve admitted my weak knowledge of Henry IV.  For a project I’m doing I wanted a Shakespeare quote on infinity, and I found a great one — “I will swear I love thee infinitely.” Here’s the thing, I would like to know the character of the man who says it (Hotspur, in this case, to his wife).  Surely right now, somewhere in the world, somebody is using a Shakespeare quote out of context.  And just as surely I could use it as I see fit, for a gift, and the recipient would be none the wiser.  But you people know me by now, and you know that it would bug the ever-living heck out of me, it would just tarnish the present forever, if I knew that in context it was something shallow or sarcastic. So, I’m asking.  Does Hotspur mean it?  Does he indeed have a loving relationship with his wife?  Or is he just saying “Yes yes you silly woman I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear, just let me get on my horse and get out of here!” I still have Chimes At Midnight, and am looking at the scene right now. I think he’s sincere.  But I’m not familiar with the play enough to have confidence in that opinion.  Anybody help me out?

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8 thoughts on “Quick! Did He Mean It?

  1. Use it!
    Hotspur and his wife are up for gold in my ‘good marriage’ awards (someone else’s blog).
    He’s a hot-headed twit of a man who flies off the handle all the time – but the scenes with his wife make him a very likeable character.
    Strains of ‘Stand by your man’ twang in the background.
    She’s no weak kneed ninnie though.

  2. Thanks as well, Bill! Ok, now I’m pleased. When I try to do stuff like this I do like it to have a few levels of depth (which is why Sonnet 17, one of the procreation sonnets, bugs me a bit). But now I’ll be able to speak not just of the quote’s significance (Shakespeare speaking of infinity is geeky on many levels…) but that, according to my experts, theirs “…is a very strong marriage… up for gold in the good marriage awards…”

    I don’t think I’ll mention that the speaker of the line is a hot-headed twit of a man ;).

  3. Twit husbands, seriously strong women – very Wodehouse!
    (Did Hotspur live in Blandings … ?)

    Whilst we are on the topic – the contrast between Hotspur with Kate (wife) and Falstaff’s treatment women is deliciously complicated.

    Falstaff later rails against ‘honour’ – but taking that at face value is also an error.

  4. I’m with Alan.

    Their exchange is a lightly comic version of Portia and Brutus’s in Julius Caesar 2.1.

    Kate asks Hotspur if he loves her as part of her effort to get him to reveal where he’s going. He doesn’t want to tell her because he wants to protect her. So he deflects her with playful double-entendre then describes his sexist-but-loving reason for not telling her what’s up.

  5. Yes, he did mean it. At the moment he’s joking with her, to tell her what she wants to hear, but he does mean it.

    They (as others have said) have probably the best marriage in all Shakespeare. (I mean think about it… Othello and Desdemona… Gertrude and Claudius… Macbeth and Lady Macbeth).

    And, if he didn’t mean it he wouldn’t be joking with her like he is. ^_^

    Great question. Henry IV Part One is probably my favorite play… And I played Lady Percy in it, so yeah. haha.

  6. He does not mean it. He means, “Let me go where I belong – fighting in the field – and I’ll REALLY love you.”
    In 3.1 he tries unsuccessfully to sneak out before the ladies detain them anymore. Forced to remain with his wife, he turns bawdy, and makes flirtatious remarks (Help me)to the Welsh ladie’s bed” about Lady Mortimer to his wife.
    I think the Hots/Lady hots scenes are always performed playfully with a lot of sexy banter because there are hardly any women in the play, and this gives the director and actors a chance to appeal to the women in the audience.

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