Sasha Lamb, a 2008 Folger Fellow, expressed her own interpretation of the father-son relationships between young Hamlet and his father, and that of King Henry and Hal. She created two soliloquies, written in iambic pentameter, where young Hamlet and Henry disclose their feelings about their fathers:
HENRY IV, PART 1
Act I, scene ii: The Sum of Naught
[Enter Hal and one of the courtiers from I.i, from opposite directions.]
Courtier: What chance we meet, my lord, on beaten streets
And not in court, where both of us reside.
’Tis near six weeks, in faith, since I have seen
Your noble face. ’Tis little wonder that
The king your esteem’d father thinks of naught
But Percy younger’s valiant deeds — my lord.
Hal: So ’tis that peacock stain’d with death’s bright hue
Who so enthralls my kingly father’s mind.
I knew his thoughts fell elsewhere as of late;
I need not see his figure to divine’t.
I win no friendship with my father while
I spend my time with subjects of the realm.
And Harry Percy — Hotspur, he is called,
By those who’ve seen nor hot nor spur of him —
Percy, with his thick tongue and notchéd sword.
So said, the brighter Harry of us two;
His armor glints and dazzles eyes and mind.
A mound of bodies gains my father’s love!
What honour in that corpse-strewn battle field
Where noble Hotspur’s fights attract king’s eyes.
Well, there remains yet time to prove myself;
One day his flash and glamour will subside
And I shall be the brighter for’t. The moon
Lacks notice when the stars are in the sky.
‘Til then, all courtier’s clouded words are but
The sum of naught. I know they never cared
For me, not even when I tried to be
My father’s perfect son; it hurts no more.
I know the width of all love felt for me,
And too the breadth of all who feel it.
What miracle is this? I did not know that the mountains moved!
Falstaff: And I am surprised you don’t blow away on all your puffs of hot air. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?
Act I, scene ii: Desperation
Horatio: I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
Hamlet: O, more than good, in truth, and truly less
Than godly only by the smallest scrape.
In youth, I look’d upon his armor’d form
As War himself, and Justice, too, who would
In battle shine from helm to greaves to toes.
No fairer king, no better foe than he.
He taught me much of sword when he return’d
From wars and battles fought long but still won.
’Twas only he could keep me from my books,
So rare were his returns when I was young.
I still practice swords, as well you know—
Our friends at school would say I spar too much.
Yet practice though I may, I know that I
Will ne’er be equal to his memory.
I long to be my father’s worthy son,
In swordplay and all else. Alas that he
Is gone! No person in this court could e’er
Replace that warlike form, much less surpass.
I least of all deserve to be his heir,
So occupied am I with books and thought.
I would give much: my kingdom, wealth, or life,
To hear my father tell me once more that
He look’d on me with pride.
He was a man. Take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
Horatio: My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.