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

Shakespeare's Henry V: More Pageant than Play?

Extracts from this document...


Shakespeare's Henry V: More Pageant than Play? Shakespeare's plays can be divided into three distinct categories: histories, romances and comedies. Henry the fifth is a history. Henry V is the last of four plays by William Shakespeare which tells of the rise of the house of Lancaster. It was written in 1599 but is set in 1415, two years after the death of his father and Henry has made a favourable impression on his courtiers and the clergy. He has constantly been encouraged to seize the throne of France with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. When the King of France responds with a mocking gift of tennis balls it presents Henry with the perfect excuse to begin the invasion. The invasion ends up in triumph but Henry still had more to do. In 1420 Henry returns to France on peace terms. His demands were granted, one of which was the hand in marriage of Katherine, the Dauphin's daughter and subsequently Henry is made the heir to the French crown. But was this play a pageant or a play? Did it actually display history or was it just a showcase of brave Britain as a story. The story of Henry V is not simply an exert from the imagination of William Shakespeare. Many historical details of the play were taken from Raphael Holinshed's the Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Shakespeare also made some references to an anonymous play dating from 1594, The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth. ...read more.


The action moves straight from Agincourt to Troyes, from 1415 to 1420. Henry woos Katherine in plain terms. Although all of these things were taken from the two sources it can be noted that the storyline of the play did not fully replicate the exact story of the Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Shakespeare had mad some changes. Here are a few of them: In Holinshed's Chronicles the Archbishop of Canterbury urges Henry to invade France simply to distract him from the issue of Church revenues but in the play the Archbishop of Canterbury supports Henry's claim to the French throne when he is asked for his opinion. In the Chronicles the tennis-ball incident was the main cause of the conflict whereas Shakespeare writes that the incident only brought the invasion closer. Holinshed writes that the conspirators plotted to kill Henry and his brothers and crown the childless Earl of March. Cambridge expected that he or his kin would succeed to the throne in due course whereas in the okay Cambridge, Scoop and Grey are in the pay of the French. They are, therefore, traitors to the country, reinforcing the audience's feeling of national pride. The Chronicles describe that Charles VI was a lunatic, and the Dauphin had full responsibility for running the country but in the play it is said that Charles is indecisive but he has not handed any of his responsibilities to anyone. In the Chronicles Henry supervised a soldier's execution for theft but in the play Henry approves of the hanging of Bardolf for theft. ...read more.


The final and most important reason for a history play was to contain a message for the political and church leaders so that they could learn from their previous mistakes. What many people do forget is that Henry V was not a play written for historians it was written for the lay people of Elizabethan London. People would come to the theatre to have a good time and it wasn't cheap; they paid a penny to get in which was a twelfth of a day's wages for a skilled workman. If you wanted a seat then you would have to pay another penny or two pence. The Elizabethan audiences were knowledgeable and enthusiastic and watching a play was an exciting experience. I think that they would have preferred the play to be performed in the way that Shakespeare had wrote to a more historic version because the historic version would have many negative things in it. This would have probably made the audience a bit more negative. The main reason that Shakespeare wrote it the way he did was that it would've made the audience feel positive and happier. It made them think that they were learning about the history of their country while at the same time having a good time. It would've also given them an escape from their dreary, laborious lives. To conclude, Shakespeare's Henry V is more pageant than play but for the right reasons. But we must ask ourselves, if Henry V only really displayed history would it not just be a documentary? Jatish Patel 11J2 Mr Hanbidge 5/8/2004 ...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

    The films carry little importance on their dialogue - the main technique that appears in both films is the control and use of a fire that prolongs further on. Olivier uses the effect of a fire realistically in a low visibility environment.

  2. How does Shakespeare present King Henry to his audience?

    His modesty prevails him yet and he begins to thank God for this pleasure and victory. His modesty and respect for Gods purpose is , yet again constructed purposely to portray the King as a man and not a unrelatable being.

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

    Henry managed to get himself into a position where no matter how the battle turned out, he would appear to be the hero. This proves he is a very wise leader, he knows that sometimes he will have to be cold hearted, like executing Bardolph, but this doesn't make him any less of a hero.

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

    Wilde ironically chose a book to provide the guidelines for Dorian's life. I think that Wilde did this because that Dorian is reading relates to Dorian's life and therefore is like his fortuneteller. "Indeed the whole book seemed to him to contain the story of his own life, written before he had lived it.....".

  1. Henry V - differences between young and old.

    At the same time, we see a soft-hearted side to "that old white-bearded Satan" when simulating Hal in a "play extempore", as he imparts with a real undertone of sincerity that for Hal to "Banish plump Jack" would be to "banish all the world."

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

    4. 421), apparently to establish Falstaff as the well loved character he seems to be in the Branagh film. It is in this flashback that the audience sees the Machiavellian seeds being sewn in Prince Hal's personality as he shows his willingness to banish "valiant Jack Falstaff", The audience

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

    They are his friends but like any hero he must make sacrifices. Being a hero isn't just about fighting or being brave it's also about thinking about and helping others. In Act three Scene one Shakespeare shows Henry giving a moving speech to his soldiers outside the walls of Harfleur.

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

    As well as keeping his promise and redeeming his ways, Hal pays tribute to Hotspur both before they do battle and after he dies. This shows he, as well as being noble on the battlefield, also has respect for others and can bring himself down to such a level whereas

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