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How does Shakespeare present King Henry to his audience?

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Introduction

Natalie Booth Y12 12/03/2004 How does Shakespeare present King Henry to his audience? Throughout the play Shakespeare uses a variety of methods, to carefully construct the presentation of Henry's character to his audiences. Within the play devices are used to portray Henry's kingly qualities and his suitability in his position of King. Thoughts and emotions are provoked in the reader deliberately by Shakespeare so that he can manipulate and control the audience's perception of Henry as a person. In this essay I will be exploring and investigating the emotions and judgements created by Shakespeare's various conventions. In the first scene we find the two religious leaders, Archbishop of Canterbury and Ely discussing, in depth, Henrys character. The description of the changes within Henrys character reminds the audience of his wild and reckless behaviour as 'Prince Hal' in the previous books Henry the IV (part 1 and 2). But the mental image created within the audience's minds of Henry, by the device of these two characters is that of a strong and competent king, "The king is full of grace and fair regard" This scene is carefully created and crafted by Shakespeare to change, or create the image of Henry. Shakespeare wants to diminish the picture of Henrys turbulent youth and prepare the audience for this intelligent and knowledgeable king. ...read more.

Middle

This is shown as yet another powerful attribute of a King. Henry extends his friendships to compensate for all his soldiers. This creates a general feeling of good fellowship within the English army. The night before the Battle Of Agincourt Henry presents a soliloquy to the audience expressing a number of feeling and emotions. This gives a real insight into Henrys character. Shakespeare presents the fact that religion is very important to Henrys soul. "What kind of God art thou?" Beyond Henrys strength and power that we have seen before, we see that he is scared, not enough to admit it, but it can be seen. He recognises what is needed with kingship and the responsibilitites being brought upon him. He prays for God to be brought to him and his soldiers " Oh god of battles, steel my soldiers hearts:, possess them not with fear" Shakespeare uses this aspect of religion to bring a different side to the audiences perception of Henry. His weakness in himself can be seen as he begs God for support. Religion is a something that would have truly created a respected perception of Henry. Shakespeare's audience lived in a time where religion was one of the most relevant and manipulative factors of their culture, making Henrys strength with God a very powerful thing when Shakespeare is presenting a characters traits. ...read more.

Conclusion

Katherine agrees to marry him but it is clear she has no choice. Shakespeare brings Henrys clumsy but yet strangely romantic attempts to woo Katherine in maybe once again for some comical aspects, (as it cannot be denied that the language barriers between the two have proved to be funny), but to show yet another side to Henry. He has shown his openness prevails with Montjoy, but he is able to love and that to an audience is very powerful. It fills the missing space in the character adaptation by Shakespeare, and makes Shakespeare's ability to manipulate and create a characters through theatre brilliant, Shakespeare took the perceived legend of the historical character of Henry V and managed to create a character that has established a new perception of what a king can be. It must be remembered that very sentence and word in this play is not but a mere reaction or coincidence, but part of a carefully constructed plan to establish and develop the audiences perception of a character. And the more intricate and complicated a character becomes the more an audience can relate to this personality. Shakespeare developed Henry away from the stereotypical images of grandeur associated with Monarchy and gave us a man. A man who at time is scared. And at times strong. But a man that throughout the play a sense of a realism. ...read more.

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