• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Does Henry V offer a patriotic version of Henry's campaigns on the surface while a sceptical subtext runs throughout the play?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Does Henry V offer a patriotic version of Henry's campaigns on the surface while a sceptical subtext runs throughout the play? The play I will write about is Henry V by William Shakespeare was written in the time of Elizabeth I but refers to the events of 1415 when King Henry V led a war against the French. The play is the fourth in a series of history plays that Shakespeare wrote beginning with Richard II and continuing with Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. The two Henry IV plays chart the adventures of 'Prince Hal' who later becomes Henry V. Prince Hal did not stay in court and prepare to be a King but spent his time drinking in the Boar's Head Tavern with characters such as Pistol, Nym and Bardolph, who are in this play and Sir John Falstaff. On becoming King Henry had to renounce Falstaff, which broke Falstaff's heart. It must be remembered that some people who would have seen Henry V would also have seen Henry IV where Henry betrays Falstaff and so Henry's character would have this fact hanging over him from the previous play. The play was performed in the 1590s and people still had strong memories of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Many people saw that conflict as a religious and righteous war as it was Protestant England against Catholic Spain. ...read more.

Middle

Many of the phrases in this chorus speech seem very patriotic and complimentary to Henry on one level, as the phrases I have focused on above show. However, if a thoughtful audience compares the information from this with that presented elsewhere in the play then many of the phrases put Henry in not so good a light. Act 4 Scene 1 is a very interesting scene; it starts with the King discussing the impending Battle with the Lords of England. Henry then borrows a cloak from one his advisors and goes about the camp in disguise so he can learn the mood of his soldiers on the eve of a battle that many expect will see all the English die at the hands of the French. The chorus refers to this in his Act 4 speech, he says 'Proud of their numbers and secure in soul the confident and over-lusty French do the low-rated English play at dice.' These few lines in the chorus speech say that the French are rolling dice on how long the English will last, Shakespeare also refers to the French as 'over lusty' and this means that the French are almost too eager to go into battle and so these lines also serve to give the impression that the French are over-confident which would please a patriotic English audience. ...read more.

Conclusion

The play also deals with the morality of war and while on the surface it paints a very patriotic and glorious conclusion about Henry's French campaign the subtext for many scenes is dubious about how moral the war actually was. Apart from the obvious fact that the play made Henry seem as if he was going to war because two bishops wanted to avoid paying taxes the play also attacks the morality of war and Shakespeare may have been trying to signal that any war for whatever reason cannot be just as it causes immense suffering on both sides. This would clash with the accepted view of the conflict with Spain and the Spanish Armada, this was generally accepted to be a holy war (Protestant England against Catholic Spain) and it could not be faulted. Because the play raises these issues much of the criticism of Henry and his war is not openly written about but rather covered by the patriotic chorus. However Shakespeare actually uses the chorus speeches to encourage the audience not to trust the chorus and some of the chorus' words plainly contradict actions in the play. This creates a play that anybody reading or watching is encouraged to think about and see the many different meaning s of the text and think about whether war is actually so great, probably exactly what Shakespeare intended. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Henry V section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Henry V essays

  1. Comparison of Olivier (1944) and Branagh's (1989) screen adaptations of Henry V

    Subsequently the comical intricacy is continued further in the stalked meeting of Fluellen and Gower. Thematically the scene represents the faction of the officer class. We observe Fluellen the fiery character who stands on the ceremony and etiquette of war in a slightly scrupulous and humoresque fashion carrying through the ideas of courage, bravery and national support.

  2. What are the functions of the Chorus in Shakespeare's Henry V?

    He can manipulate people so it appears he isn't responsible for any possible negative outcomes of his actions. He does this with the war. Later on in the play, he blames the Dauphin for provoking the war so again he doesn't appear responsible.

  1. In the tradition of aesthetics, Oscar Wilde said, “There is no such thing as ...

    However, Dorian being influenced by the book is very careless and doesn't "wish to know anything about them" he doesn't care what people think of him. He doesn't care about anything apart from the fact that he is young and beautiful, a lot like Lord Henry.

  2. Discuss the dramatic purposes of the chorus speeches in Henry V

    The chorus in act 1 steps forward and announces that we are about to watch a story that will include huge fields, grand battles, and fighting kings. The Chorus notes, however, that we will have to use our imaginations to make the story come to life: we must imagine that

  1. Henry V - differences between young and old.

    surround him so that, when he must, he can emerge as his true, heroic self, shock the whole country, and win the people's love and his father's admiration. Harry is clearly intelligent and already capable of the psychological manoeuvrings required of kings.

  2. Comparing Shakespeare's Henry V to Kenneth Branagh's 1989 Film.

    The first flashback occurs while Falstaff is on his deathbed, and his remaining friends lament his impending loss. Branagh gives Pistol a line of Falstaff's, describing Falstaff in his own words as "A goodly, portly man, in faith," (I Henry IV.

  1. Does Shakespeare successfully present Henry V as a hero to his audience?

    As soon as Henry and his army are let into Harfleur he is showing good initiative by already thinking about the next stage, "Upon the soldiers, we will retire to Calais."

  2. Discussing ‘Honour’ in Henry IV (i)

    This again shows exactly how Hotspur feels about honour and the way in which it can be won. Another person who can be compared to being like Hotspur in this way is Douglas. He, just before the battle in the rebel camp, goes to the allies' camp and gives them

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work