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Discuss the idea that Shakespeare presents Henry as an ideal king for the Tudor age, but subsequent audiences may interpret him rather differently. How do you respond to Shakespeare's Henry?

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Introduction

Henry V Coursework Discuss the idea that Shakespeare presents Henry as an ideal king for the Tudor age, but subsequent audiences may interpret him rather differently. How do you respond to Shakespeare's Henry? The Tudors perceived their ideal king as strong powerful and decisive. A king that could defend the country and lead the armies into battle. Shakespeare described his ideal king in Macbeth as having: "The king-becoming graces, As justice, verity, temp'rance, stableness, Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude." In order for the character of Henry to be popular, regal and a king of his time, it was important, that Shakespeare portrayed him as a great leader of his country. Shakespeare presented Henry as a strong, magnificent and admired leader of the armies and ruler of England. In the play our first impressions of Henry are just this. The Chorus describes him as "war-like Harry", giving the audience a strong first impression. The Churchmen reinforce this impression when describing Henry's reformation from an immature boy with uneducated companions, to a man with morals, piety and a sense of justice. Throughout the play Shakespeare builds upon Henry's character. Shakespeare makes use of the Chorus to present Henry to the audience as if he were Mars, the God of War. ...read more.

Middle

This image illustrates that Henry is the 'strawberry' and has developed into a better king after growing under the shadow of nettles. Shakespeare is contrasting Henry's past and present, so the audience believes him to be an even greater king. As the audience can see the huge contrast between his past wildness and the good leadership qualities he now possesses. This is illustrated by his reaction to the Dauphin's insult. He does not allow himself to show anger but speaks with composure and irony saying: "We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us." Shakespeare illustrates that Henry believes in justice and honesty. He proves that he is a good leader when he condemns his own friend Bardolph. When he hears of Bardolph stealing from a church, he puts aside his personal feelings and does his duty, beheading his friend to uphold justice. Shakespeare presents Henry as a moral and honest man; Henry asks the churchmen about his claim to the French throne, saying: "May I with right and conscience make this claim?" Some believe Henry wants a clear conscience because he is an honest man. Arguably he doesn't want to lose the war and the confidence of his people and therefore wants an acceptable reason to go to war with France. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Branagh film uses this scene to make Henry seem more human and a vulnerable man with emotions. I believe that the two films are both good versions of Shakespeare's "Henry V", each appealing to the audiences of its own date. However, I believe that the Olivier version is more "correct" in portraying Henry in the way that Shakespeare would want him to be presented to his Tudor audience, but the Branagh film in my opinion is a more convincing account of Henry as a human being. When reading the play during a war I believe that a modern audience would want to have a strong, decisive, honest leader. But they would still want the leader to have good morals and be portrayed as an ordinary man. Modern audiences like to see and understand the moral issues, difficult decisions and inner turmoil whereas Tudor audiences would no doubt prefer the strength, poser and decisive monarch. There are major differences between the impact of the film versions of "Henry V" and reading the play. When watching "Henry V", on stage or on film the audience can see the actors and can see their reactions and emotions better than some readers can visualize it. The Tudor audiences would have had high expectations of their king. Henry is portrayed as a strong glorious, warrior king, who is a great ruler of England. Lauren Mayer 6A Bury Grammar School (Girls) 33221 - 1 - ...read more.

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