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The character of Henry V fulfilled the Tudor ideal of the perfect leader and king, yet for 21st century audiences, he remains an ambiguous figure. Consider the difficulties faced by a director of this play.

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Introduction

KING HENRY V The character of Henry V fulfilled the Tudor ideal of the perfect leader and king, yet for 21^st century audiences, he remains an ambiguous figure. Consider the difficulties faced by a director of this play. Does Shakespeare present Henry as a ruthless war-like figure in pursuit of victory whatever the cost, as a golden hero whose story glorifies war, or as a just, sincere man in search of everlasting peace? Discuss with close reference to the text and any film productions you have seen. There are two possible viewpoints to consider when answering this question, looking from the Tudors point of view, there is one simple answer, yes King Henry V was a heroic, patriotic and brilliant leader to his people. However the real depth of a question such as this one is in answering the question from a modern standing, looking back at an often na�ve period of history. Over time, attitudes toward subject such as war, heroism, and what indeed makes a person "great" have undergone drastic changes, people have become individual in their way of thinking and personal viewpoints have become more widely accepted. It is because of this that we can begin to see other sides of Shakespeare's King, and begin to contemplate such things as motive, and personal gratification through Henrys behaviour and decisions. ...read more.

Middle

through speeches. One excellent example of such a demonstration would be the speech Henry made to his men just before the battle. The purpose of which was to instil in them a sense of patriotism honour and courage. The main point he wishes to make, is that although they are massively outnumbered, he does not want anymore men than he already has, "Gods will, I pray thee wish not one man more." Creating a tremendous sense of community between them. His main speech starts at line 18 and finishes at line 67, the sheer size of this speech, tells us how much convincing Henry believes he has to do. The King employs a clever use of propaganda throughout by using such stirring sentences as, "But we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers". The speech served its purpose at the time, and was an inspiration to Henry's men, although today this could be seen as underhand and immoral, as he is obviously manipulating the men, and using them as objects be it for personal gain or otherwise. Taking all of these points into consideration many modern day directors of productions choose to portray Henry as a very negative character, often making him into the evil side of the story, and the sinister corruption that lurks behind Shakespeare's story, if it is studied. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are shown truth, and that is why the this version is today consider the best. In conclusion, through analysing Henry's character, I would maintain my original argument. Although through observing what I have said in the main body of this essay it is possible to deduce that there is an outstanding aspect of all three original elements contained within him. Nevertheless it is obvious that the strongest aspect of Henry Shakespeare wished to enforce, was his manipulative, controlling and often sinister side. Again, it would not, of course be fair to say this is Henry's only characteristic, Indeed he shows a somewhat caring and considerate side at times, most predominantly during the time he spends convincing Kate to be his wife. Finally, I would like to state that, it is easy to perceive Shakespeare's Henry as being either a loyal, and heroic King, or as a dominating, overruling leader. Because of this, the main difficulty faced by a director of such a play or film, would be the techniques involved in including all three of these guises in one character. This is why in the two films I have above mentioned we see two different Henry's. The directors have included all three, but one aspect has dominated, leading the viewer to have one fixed view of Henry. Yet, the ideal compromise would be to encourage the reader or viewer to determine Henry's personality through careful character study, thus realising the true essence of Shakespeare's character. ...read more.

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