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

Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents Henry as both a private man and a public figure in the course of the play.

Extracts from this document...


Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents Henry as both a private man and a public figure in the course of the play. The historical drama has long been used to portray English Kings and Queens as noble and heroic figures. Shakespeare is noted for writing the first true dramatic presentations of history's rulers in his plays, particularly the works Julius Caesar, Henry IV Parts I and II, and Henry V. In King Henry VI Parts I and II Shakespeare had already presented his audience with a younger Henry, Prince Hal, who preferred the company of Falstaff, Nym and Bardolph to the royal court of his father. In Henry V, King Henry is portrayed very much as a man changed by duty and age. Shakespeare represents the king's qualities very effectively, notably his leadership, patriotic courage and commitment to God. As early as the fifth line of the rousing opening chorus, Shakespeare connects Henry with the idea of war and power, likening him to Mars, the Roman God of war. The opening lines of the chorus leave the audience with no doubts as to his power - "at his heels leash'd in like hounds, should famine sword and fire crouch for employment". The opening scene of the play relates how Henry matured to become a strong and good king. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely discuss the apparent miracle that was Henry's transformation to a honourable king of England. As Canterbury says, "The course of his youth promis'd it not". ...read more.


Shakespeare follows with a more personal speech, with no formal language. The men are called "dogs" and "English monsters", and Henry particularly picks out Scroop, calling him a "cruel, ingrateful, savage and inhuman creature". In the scene it has been shown that Henry can make important decisions, even when the subject is personal, such as here, with the decision he makes to execute his friend for treason. Act III Scene I displays a rousing and pivotal speech made by Henry outside the gates of Harfleur, beginning "Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more..." attempting to unite his armed forces. The speech has a great impact, displaying Henry as a superb public figure and motivator. He publicly shows great determination to win the war not only for the people of England, but for his father and ancestors, people like the celebrated man of the period, Edward the Black Prince. Henry shows great faith in both country and army, and openly admits that England will triumph, as a way to boost the morale of his men, feeling low and in some cases very ill from days of walking through foreign countryside. During the speech, Shakespeare has shown that Henry is in touch with all parties within his army, addressing the soldiers, nobles and yeomen separately. Henry encourages his soldiers to "...imitate the action of the tiger..." encouraging his soldiers to mimic the animalistic behaviour of the tiger, giving them the ruthlessness, power, speed and agility of the creature as a collective. ...read more.


He believes that if the army dies, the blood will be left on Henrys' hands and God will punish him justly. This worries Henry greatly, and he proceeds to give a speech in defence of the king, using the examples of a boy and his father, and a servant and his master. In the speech he tries to show how the power of the King is absolute and his subjects have no choice over what they want to do, whereas the boy answering to his father and the servant answering to his master have a certain amount of freewill. When Henry continues, justifying the other side of the men's argument, he seems to be uncertain, saying that the king cannot be blamed for the individual actions of his soldiers. When Williams argues with Henry, the king remains reasonable and calm and accepts what Williams says; giving a clear demonstration of his ability to keep restrained when under pressure. Henry speaks in a soliloquy at the end of the scene, and appears to privately fight with his emotions. During his speech he discloses his beliefs that only private men can have private lives, and complains that there is a lack of consideration for him. As Henry is a young King, Shakespeare has in my opinion portrayed Henry brilliantly, as both a public figure that his countrymen can admire and serve proudly, and a private young man who seems to still be coming to terms with his royalty. I think that ultimately Shakespeare has represented Henry as an ordinary man who has had the greatness of Kingship thrust upon him. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...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 British History: Monarchy & Politics 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 British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. What kind of king does Shakespeare create in Act 3 Scenes 1 and 2? ...

    In this line Shakespeare uses a metaphor of the tiger, and portrays Henry as noble and loyal. Although Shakespeare depicts Henry as majestic and inspiring, he is careful not to glorify war and also reflects the harsh realities of war; "Then lend the eye a terrible aspect, let it pry

  2. arctic story

    really enthusiastic about it, I decided that I would start being me again because it is weird being James. "You know that navigation system, does it send emails," I queried "Yes, kind of, but it is very slow and you can only write 50 words," "That's ok, I just need

  1. Shakespeare: Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V

    Northumberland 'the ladder wherewithal the mounting Bolingbroke ascends.... Knowest the way to plant unrightful kings'. Shakespeare makes the parallel between Richard's prophecy and Northumberland's rebellion more poignant by having the king in Henry IV Part I repeat almost verbatim Richard's words 'thou ladder by which Bolingbroke ascends my throne'.

  2. a play for drama

    I gave you a chance and you blew it, you cheating little bitch! Sandra: And you no why I done it because he's twice the man you'll ever be, at least he can treat me right. So get over yourself.

  1. Examine how Ackroyd presents ideas of originality in the novel 'Chatterton'.

    He finds a painting that he becomes convinced is real, but turns out to be a fake. He discovers manuscripts which confirm his suspicions of Chatterton living longer than recorded, but these also are exposed as fakes. It seems that he is more a victim in this novel, than we may first believe.

  2. A study in the way Shakespeare presents Henry V

    the blood,' willing his men to display their ferocity, using the metaphor of a tiger to evoke animal-like emotions, savagery and fierceness. Henry exploits the soldiers patriotism to evoke a passionate response, "you, good yeomen, / Whose limbs were made in England."

  1. Analyse the ways in which Shakespeare dramatises his exploration of the idea of leadership ...

    Henry's father had died when he was a small child. Nevertheless he had enormous backing when he came to the throne. He had advisers to help him with the day to day running of the country so he wasn't entirely on his own.

  2. With reference to at least three of the key speeches in the play, explore ...

    the end of the day he is just a man and he knows his power cannot change fate as he is only man but really it lies in Gods hands. Shakespeare may of put this in as the Elizabethan audience would have liked it and would of liked to join in with shouting at and cheering for the characters.

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