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Krims, M. (2001). Prince Hal's Play As Prelude To His Invasion Of France. Psychoanal. Rev., 88(4):495-510.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Review, 88(4):495-510

Prince Hal's Play As Prelude To His Invasion Of France

Marvin Krims, M.D.

People tend to overcome many of the emotional problems that are a normal part of their childhood. From a developmental psychoanalytic perspective, an important factor that contributes to this salutary outcome is increased acceptance and integration of previously unacceptable aspects of the self that had caused inner tensions and therefore had to be repressed. Certain kinds of childhood and adolescent play facilitate this growth process by presenting unconscious, repressed conflicts to consciousness in ways that permit greater acceptance and integration. I try to show that Shakespeare's 1 and 2 Henry IV portray how play helps Prince Hal evolve from the madcap adolescent of London's underworld into King Henry V of England.1 Although Henry was an effective military leader who won bloody glory in the fields of France, I also argue that his transformation from irresponsible prince to warrior king is not nearly as radical as the rhetoic of the text would suggest. In this reading, the rowdy son is father to the militarist king.

The Developmental Importance Of Play

The use of play for growth and development is well known in psychoanalytic psychology.2 Freud (1920), observing his young grandson Ernst, learned firsthand about the capacity of play to represent the child's inner concerns. Ernst would toss and


* Quotations reprinted from 1 and 2 Henry IV, which appears in The Riverside Shakespeare, G. Blakemore Evans (editor), copyright © 1974 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. Reprinted with permission.

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