Monday, March 10, 2008

Henry IV, a tale for our times?

The Alexandria Book Club will revisit a sometime neglected classic in the Spring -- Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I. Does the story of a wayward son coming clean, inheriting his father's throne and waging a belligerent war of conquest have anything to tell us about the current occupant of the White House?

The Bushes may not be Lancastrians, and the presidential elections may not be the Wars of the Roses, but does Prince Hal's story resonate with modern politics? A scion of an aristocratic house spends a dissipated youth, reforms and wins political office, assumes his father's position and under the influence of his father's self-interested courtiers wages a war of conquest in a foreign land.

Hal, as the warrior-king Henry V was successful in his French ambitions. But even this success was short lived:

"Of France and England, did this King succeed:

Whose State so many had the managing,

That they lost France, and made his England bleed:"

One should also remember that Henry IV was a usurper. One wonders if any "sad and solemn priests" sing still for the political career of Al Gore?