‘Tis not due yet; I would be

loath to pay him before his

day. What need I be so forward

with him that calls not on me?

Well, ’tis no matter; honour

pricks me on. Yea, but how if

honour prick me off when I
come on? how then?

Can honour set to

a leg? no:

or an arm?

no: or take away the

grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no

skill in surgery, then? no.

What is honour? a word.

What is in that word honour?

what is that honour?

air. A trim reckoning!

Who hath it?he that died o’ Wednesday. 

 Doth

he feel

it?

no.

Doth he hear it?

no.

‘Tis insensible, then.

Yea, to the dead. But

will it not live with the living? 

no. Why? detraction will

not suffer it. Therefore I’ll

none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so ends my catechism.

 

Crib Notes

Name: The Emperor - Falstaff.

Dramatis Personae: Sir John (Jack) Falstaff, née John Oldcastle.

Astrology: Aries, Mars, Scorpio

Hebrew Letter: DALETH

 

 Text & Context: The Hebrew letter daleth is a door. It represents impoverishment, those brought low, the awareness of possessing nothing of one's own. As a door, it signifies the choice between opening ourselves or keeping closed and alienated. While stout and 4-sided, in representing humanity and things mundane it is broken - the hole how the whole may exit or enter.

 4 is the number of stability, the earth, and mankind. Simply put, The Emperor card represents earthly goods and worldly authority, in all its carnal limitations. As the surrogate father of Prince Harry, The Emperor card is built of a triad - Hal, Henry IV, and Falstaff - with Falstaff himself binary. On the one hand, he is the John Oldcastle figure of 1 & 2 Henry IV, knight of old, charming, amiable, overflowing with humanity, analogous with cakes and ale, King Arthur, Medieval England. On the other, he is Sir John of The Merry Wives of Windsor; an impostor, deracinated from his era, a buffoon, stripped of merit and meaning, meager, so much soiled laundry, an insipid cliché and inarticulate parody of himself. We may consider that Sir John reversed, and concentrate on the Falstaff of Prince Hal and The Boar's Head.

 Falstaff is a man of the world; the world of Chaucer rather than Shakespeare. As Hal tells us, he has nothing to do with the time. Like an emperor of old, he is a man of carnal indulgence, exploiting all within his dominion yet free from its confines. He is immune from consequence due to his high station; a common rogue would neither be so imposing nor so funny. As with Hal and the rest of the Boar's Head denizens, he dominates any audience. His great genius is language, emanating effortlessly from his mouth along with jovial laughter. What wit he claims for himself is in making others wittier through his mere presence. Rarely alone, unlike Hamlet whose genius skeptically explores the lies and limitations of language, Falstaff is as the lifeblood of language itself, its vitality and celebration. At one time a professional soldier, he has turned from the business of death and the religious discord of his Lollardist precedent to the immediate concerns of life and the living of it. By comparison, his protege Hal is cold and lifeless, with a mind irascible and acerbic rather than supple and encompassing. In this way, Falstaff is the man - fully human - the king cannot be.

 Falstaff grew so huge a character, 1 Henry IV has to be let out into Henry IV Part 2 just to encompass his girth. And still he had more. Alas, his promised appearance in Henry V is broken in the only way it could with a man like Falstaff, that is: silenced, off stage, without a word. And not the promise alone, but Falstaff, the larger than life father figure, was also broken. Elizabeth's apocryphal request, to see Sir John "in love", had already been accomplished when all saw the love Falstaff felt for his surrogate son. Like Prospero breaking his staff and drowning his books, it was Hal, the erstwhile pupil, who broke Falstaff

 

 It has been said the character of Mercutio grew too large, such that Shakespeare had to kill him lest he overwhelm the play. In Falstaff, Shakespeare rises above the bar set by Marlowe's mighty line in a comic character transcending the rival poet's Faustian tyrants, and in whom he seems to have invested much of himself. By enlisting Henry V, who feels love for no one, Shakespeare kills off his great Arthurian character lest he overwhelm the author himself.

Intertext: King of Cups Hal