• 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, was written in the late sixteenth century.

Extracts from this document...


Henry V Essay Shakespeare's, Henry V, was written in the late sixteenth century, this composition will focus upon how Shakespeare portrayed Henry V, using factual knowledge and Shakespeare's own interpretation. I will look at the character, language, structure and history of the play. Most Shakespearian, historical, plays were based upon Holinshead's Chronicles, these were mostly true but often Shakespeare adjusted the figures and facts to emphasise parts of his play's, and create tension and drama, such as when he is attempting to woo Katherine, to make a more interesting play. Many of Shakespeare's plays were historical, based upon actual happenings. Henry V was one of these plays, among others that include Henry VIII and Richard III. Shakespeare's plays were greatly affected by the society in which he lived, which was considerably different to our modern society. Shakespeare's society was a patriarchal society, a male driven world, examples of this are found throughout his plays. In Henry V, the King of France forces Katherine into marriage with Henry. Even the playhouse in which Shakespeare's plays were preformed was patriarchal. Only men were allowed to act and young men played women's parts. The church was also a major influence upon Shakespeare; the church was again a highly patriarchal institution. In Henry V the Church funded Henry's war with France, this was commonplace in both Henry and Shakespeare's era. ...read more.


Many people see Henry as a hero; there are prime examples of this throughout the play, he fights for a just cause, the Salic law (this is a law in which the throne cannot be inherited through the mother's side of the family. This law was used in Germany and not in France, which France claimed they did; however the present king of France had inherited the throne through his mother, making the present king invalid.) and the way in which he inspires his comrades at the battle of Harfleur, "Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more; or close up the wall with our English dead." Henry gives his soldiers a sense of belonging by calling them "brother" and "friend". This could be seen as heroism, giving his soldiers something they would usually never have. However it could be seen as trying to manipulate his men into fight well for him, at the battle of Agincourt, Henry reads out the names of the English nobility but when he comes to read the names of the dead commoners he simply states, "None else of name; and of all other men but five and twenty." This suggests that in reality, Henry would not have even looked at these people twice, let alone call them, "brother" and "friend". "Henry V" uses many dramatic devices to keep the play interesting for its audience. ...read more.


I do not believe that Shakespeare intended for Henry V to be played with a strong alignment, neither good nor evil. Henry is a complex character and is both good and bad. This fragmented character is very effective in this play, and makes Henry V, in particular a good character. The overall effect of the play upon the audience could have a mixed effect. The speeches before the battles would have kept the audiences attention. The threats before Harfleur would keep them in suspense. There are scenes however that I have mentioned before, mainly the comedy and love scenes, that are not required of the play, yet they are added to keep the audience more entertained. Most of this play includes violence, be it the battles of Agincourt and Harfleur, or killing one of his former friends, after he stole a "pax", to prove a point that he was not the young and impressionable man he was when he came to the throne of England. Violence is a main theme in the play, with love and comedy as sub-plots to keep the audience interested. This would have appealed to huge numbers of people, be it peasants and serfs up to barons and nobility, Shakespeare saw the fact that single themed stories only appealed to certain members of that time, instead he put in a large variety of things to attract different people, similar in many ways to what movie and play writers do today. ...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

    He brilliantly uses the fire to flicker light on to the faces of those around it. Olivier possibly uses it in an advantageous manner using the flickering and shadowing of the fire to mysteriously hide the character's facial expressions. Branagh replicates Olivier's effect with his own fire.

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

    People always think he is doing what is best for the country, so Henry never gets the blame. Another function of the chorus is to add to the patriotic mood of the play, by speaking some memorable verse. The chorus explains some of Henry's exploits in a grand rhetorical style, which suits the epic treatment of the subject.

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

    "The moon hung low in the sky like a yellow skull...stretched a long arm across it and had it....". Widle exposes the attitudes of the aristocracy. The people tat Dorian associates himself with are part of the aristocracy they have not earnt the power that they have.

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

    We learn that Henry lands with a large fleet of warships at Harfleur, a port city on the northern coast of France. There, the English army attacks the city with terrifying force. The alarmed King Charles offers King Henry a compromise: he will not give him the crown of France,

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

    It presents us with a sympathetic respect for his character. This can be seen in Henrys conversation with Montjoy ( the French herald). Henry is open and honest with his weak position within the war. " I know not if the day be ours, or no" Montjoy replies with " the day is yours" but Henry seems unphased by this.

  2. Discuss the Function of the Chorus in Henry V and how its idealised views ...

    of, as one critic put it "Public and private", or, in other words the theme of how the characters react and speak when in different social situations. By talking directly to the audience using lines such as "Gently to hear and kindly to judge our play" and "On this unworthy

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

    In Act two Scene two Henry finds out that three of his lords, and friends, are "traitors." He is upset by this, "What shall I say to thee, Lord Scroop, thou cruel, Ingrateful, savage and inhuman creature?" Although they are his friends he knows that he must, "Arrest them to answer to the law."

  2. Does Henry V offer a patriotic version of Henry's campaigns on the surface while ...

    and his advisors in the previous act to lave some men behind in case Scotland decided to invade. This puts some doubt into an observant audience mind about whether they totally trust the chorus. The chorus goes on to say on line 6 that Henry is the 'mirror of all

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