Henry V is based during the 1500’s. King Henry (the main character) has in him two sides…a natural side and a politic side.
We know this because Henry is presented as having the qualities of an ideal king and as a character with a more vulnerable, human side. From having these personalities King Henry helps people run the country in a way hat he can make decisions on whether to invade a country or not. Because King Henry is a good politician and a good friend, he can use these for contributing to being an ideal King.Henry V must have been written some time during 1599. We know this because the Act 5 chorus makes a reference to the Earl of Essex’s anticipated return from Ireland (lines 29-34), and Essex left England in March and returned in September.
A King in Henry V’s time was supreme. He was a military commander, a religious and spiritual leader, political decision-maker and a lawgiver. The kings had to have these skills in all areas to be an ideal ruler. I think that Shakespeare has chosen to portray Henry in such a favourable way as he managed to conquer France at such a young age that it must be remembered by all of England. Also in the play Henry thanks god straight away for the victory over France which shows us he is the ‘mirror of all Christian Kings’ An example of Henry thanking go is when he says “O god, thy arm was here; And not to us, but to thy arm alone”.A king in Henry V’s time had a very different role to the monarchy nowadays. They were not just known as the leader of that time but as the person who was responsible for the country itself and were considered second only in importance to god himself. Even though the kings of that time were the most important people in their country, they were the ones who lead their men into battle.
In the play, Henry was not only a political leader but a militarily and religious leader too. To the people, Henry was like a role model at such a young age. It was important that the king had skills in all these areas.Henry has many kingly qualities. One of the most promising kingly aspects is that he controls his emotions and personal feelings. An example of this is when Henry hears that Bardolph (an old friend) had stolen a pax from a church.
Henry says “We would have al such offenders cut off”. This shows that no matter whom the wrongdoers are they will still be dealt with severely.Another quality about Henry is that he treats the enemy with as much respect as he does with his own men. An example of this is when Fluellen tells Henry about the French soldiers captured. Henry says “And we give express charge, that in our marches through the country, there be nothing compelled from the villages, nothing taken but paid for, none of the French upbraided or abused in disdainful language, gentler gamester is the soonest winner”.
This also shows that Henry is confident about a victory over France as he is thinking about the French peasants already, and when they will be his subjects.King Henry is a man who respects people that respect him. Proof of this is when he says” lives he good uncle? Thrice within this hour I saw him down: thrice up again, and fighting; from helmet to the spur all blood he was”. Henry is obviously astonished to see how well his men are doing in battle, and, this shows his concern for each individual soldier in his army. As Henry respects people, he also keeps his words, even to the French.
We know this because he doesn’t allow his army to harm innocent French people. Another example could be: as news comes that the French are ready to charge, Montjoy arrives for a final to time to ask if Henry will agree to be ransomed. Henry rejects the suggestion as he has done before. Henry says “I pray thee bear my former answer back: bid them achieve me and then sell my bones. Good god, why should they mock poor fellows thus?” this shows us that Henry has made up his mind and wont go back on it. He is very determined.Even though Henry believes in his men, he still asks god for help when fear is in his heart.
Henry says “[kneels] O God of battles, steel my soldiers hearts! Possess them not with fear, take from them now the sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers pluck their hearts from them.” King Henry believes God will help him and shows a strong religious faith.Henry possesses the ability to inspire and motivate his men with his words.
In the English camp, the nobles weigh up the frightening odds against them, but Henry encourages them with the view that because their numbers are so small, each mans share of honour will be that much greater. Henry quotes ” The fewer men, the greater the share of honour.” Henry also encourages them more by telling them that in years to come they will recall as old men the deeds they performed on St. Crispins Day. This will give the soldiers more self-confidence and will make them fight better.King Henry also concerns for his subjects as the French sends Henry a present. The gift is a barrel of tennis balls, a mocking reference to Henrys youth. Henry sends back a threatening message, he will attack France in pursuit of his lawful claim to the throne and the French people will come to regret Dauphins insults.
Henry makes up his mind to invade France at this point. This shows Henrys concern for his subjects as the French could mock them as well.Shakespeare did not only show Henry being a great king but as an ordinary man. Shakespeare wanted everyone to see that Henry is just like you and me, and possessed all the aspects of a human being. He did this because it allows the audience and his subjects to identify him. We have proof of this shown throughout the play.
Like everyone else, Henry has a relationship. In this case, with two people; Williams and Fluellen, who are different as they are in the lower class. Henry puts aside this fact, and shows us that he can be like anybody else.
Another point of when Henry is being shown as a man is when he disguises himself so he can hear what the soldiers think will happen. The discussion is between Henry and Bates. They are talking about their likely fate in the coming battle. Henry makes the point that the King experiences the same emotions as ordinary men, including fear. An example of Henry saying this is “No; nor it is not meet he should. For, though I speak it to you, I think the King is but a man, as I am.” This quotation is showing that the King wants others to see he is just like them and should not be judged badly.Before the Battle of Agincourt, Henry thinks about the burden of responsibility and that him being a King, distinguishes the difference from an ordinary man.
Also, Kings have so many cares that they are unable to enjoy a peaceful nights sleep. He says “Not all these, laid in bed majestical, can sleep so soundly and the wretched slave.” Henry is trying to tell us that being a king is not easy and it comes with great responsibility. This is basically showing his soliloquy where he shows feelings of insecurity and humility.One of Henrys great qualities of being an ordinary man is his modesty. Henry admits to Montjoy, that this army in a poor condition and that he would prefer to march on to Calais unimpeded. Henry says “though’t is no wisdom to confess so much unto an enemy of craft and vantage, My people are with sickness much enfeebled, My numbers lessened, and those few I have almost no better than so many French.
” Henry has modesty but the French have arrogance and pride. The French constable says “Tut! I have the best armour in the world. Would it were day.” Then he starts talking about his horse being the best in Europe. Clearly, we can see that French over-estimate themselves and don’t even think that they could lose the battle.Henry has modesty, and, he has honesty. Both of these contribute into showing Henry’s human qualities and add to the understanding of Henry’s character. Henry shows his honesty to Montjoy before the battle of Agincourt.
Henry says his soldiers may look ragged, but they are full of courage. Proof of this is..
” And my poor soldiers tell me yet ere night They’ll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck the gay new coats o’er the French soldiers’ heads and turn them out of service”. This shows Henry’s honesty because he does not attempt to cover up the weaknesses in his army.During the battle of Agincourt, Henry orders his men to kill their prisoners. This is not only because the English are outnumbered, but also because the French killed the luggage boys. This doesn’t’ only bring out the anger in Henry, but in Fluellen as well.
Fluellen says, “Kill the boys and the luggage! T is expressly against the law of arms.” Henry is angry at the massacre of the boys and says “I was not angry since I came to France until this instant. Take a trumpet, Herald; ride thou unto the horsemen on yon hill: if they will fight with us, bid them come down, or void the field; they do offend our sight.” Because Henry shows his anger this helps people see he gets emotional at the same things as the ordinary men.A positive aspect about a man is having a good sense of humour. After the battle of Agincourt, Henry remembers the incident with Williams. For a practical joke, Henry gives the glove to Fluellen and when the two meet, Williams strikes Fluellen and challenges him.
Henry reveals that he was the man Williams had challenged the night before the battle. Williams defends himself by claiming that he meant no offence (he thought he was challenging an ordinary man). Henry tells him about the joke and orders Williams glove to be filled with gold coins for no hard feelings. Henry playing a joke also shows us more of his human side.Like most people, Henry finds it hard to communicate with the opposite sex. Despite the language difficulties, Henry begins his courtship of Katharine. Because of Henry’s young age, he has not had much practice with women so he even claims not to be a very eloquent wooer.
Henry repeatedly describes her trying to get the message across that he loves her. He says, “an angel is like you, Kate, and you are like an angel”.Ordinary men have ordinary wives. Henry and Kate being together help build both of their human qualities. From Henry being like a man, we can understand his character much more easily.Shakespeare has written the play in a way, that lets us see how Henry’s language contributes to our understanding of him being a great king and also a man. We know this by some of the key speeches, which demonstrate the two sides of his character. For instance, Henry addresses his troops before the battle at Harfleur in a way that makes his men believe in themselves.
Henry could be described as an inspirational orator. We know this by some of the key phrases he says in his speech such as “have in these parts from morn till even fought and sheathed their swords for lack of argument. Dishonour not your mothers, now attest that those whom you called fathers did beget you. “This example helps us see how inspiring he is, and, how he can influence people with his words.
Another example could be when the battle of Agincourt is about to begin. Henry lifts his army’s spirits by using the smallness of their numbers to encourage a feeling of brotherhood. The way in which he does this could be “we few, we very few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” This phrase also helps put aside the fact that Henry is the king. By using ‘We’ repeatedly, the men think that everyone is worth the same. This is another way in which we can see Henry is a great king.The way in which we see Henry being a great man could be his honest conversation with Williams.
Replying to the argument of Williams, Henry argues that a king cannot be held responsible for the souls of those soldiers who die without having represented their sins.Henry says this in true honesty from what he is thinking. He says “the king is not bound to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the farther of his son, nor the master of his servant, for they purpose not their deaths, when they purpose their services.
” Henry says this in a very clever way as he manages to persuade the three men that every man is responsible for his own soul. This also shows Henry’s persuasive skills, which can also contribute to our under-standing or his human character.In conclusion, Henry having a body politic and a body natural both contribute into making a better king. Shakespeare had written the play, in words that clearly show the two sides of Henry and how well he uses them. Henry V was an ideal king for Shakespeare to use in front of his audience.It is very important that we see the two sides of Henry because this way, it helps people to understand his character more.