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Henry V Character Analysis

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Introduction

King Henry V Character Sketch As in a large part of his plays, Shakespeare portrays Henry V very realistically, sketching him along the way and making his character extremely believable; during his ranging speeches and monologues we feel as if we're there, despite the Chorus' apologies for having such modest conditions like the stage. The playwright reveals to us the kingly qualities of Henry, such as his firm leadership, realistic sense of judgement, loyalty to his kingdom and support for his people, all of these being conveyed by his great oratorical abilities which had a great impact on the post-medieval society. However, Shakespeare also provides his audience with food for thought as he makes us question ourselves whether Henry's tendency to detach himself from responsibility and to instead use God's will and support of the battle as a justification is morally reprehensible. King Henry's qualities are first revealed through indirect characterisation as the two bishops talk highly of him. They praise him for being "full of grace and fair regard", qualities which shall be later revealed through the King's actions. Moreover, they are right in commending his intelligence and skill of manipulating language as when we "Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,/...The air, a chartered libertine, is still,/ And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears." However, this is a newly formed moral character as the characteristic of his youth was "wildness". ...read more.

Middle

attitude or when they would rather not fight due to low number of men by telling them that "The fewer men, the greater share of honour". This also shows Henry's personal attitude and understanding of this war and battle, as an honourable thing rather than simply power-seeking. He also gives his men the opportunity to leave if they have "no stomach to this fight" thus raising morale dramatically as his men know that he does not simply regard them as pawns fighting for the King only. The climax of his speech is reached when the King declares that "For he today that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother" which convinces his men that glory and unity in battle are worth dying for; again one of the reasons why this is so convincing for the soldiers and for us is if we try to understand and look at the society in which they lived, the King's speech is full of nobleness and to be called a King's brother is of great pride. Therefore, this shows dedication and respect for his men, a quality which cannot be attributed to the French. Another contrast that conveys the rarity of such nobility as Henry's is the attitude of the French to their dead soldiers- "For many of our princes- woe the while!-/Lie drowned and soaked in mercenary blood", therefore showing that they see the men of their own country as inferior and not worthy of their attention. ...read more.

Conclusion

that "God fought for us"), Henry doesn't concern himself-or, at least, he feels that he is not required to concern himself-with the issue of his moral responsibility. Furthermore, in present days, one may argue that while Henry is precautious, on the other hand, he is impulsive in the sense that he gives way to fury. At a first glance we might think that Henry ordered that the French prisoners be murdered to avenge the killing of the English boys in the camp. This may seem morally decadent in our days, but in the post-medieval society he is praised as being "a gallant king" for doing so. However, it may also be argued that Henry thought that the French were rallying, which then justifies his reasons for killing the French prisoners. In conclusion, I think that Shakespeare portrays Henry as a distinctive, heroic king who seems to be fully dedicated to the causes of England. The fact that neither his father, who seems to have made "the fault (of)...compassing the crown", and his son who "lost France and made his England bleed" don't appear to possess all of Henry V's qualities makes them so much more valuable. Albeit the presence of things that we might morally condemn in our present society, we also have to consider that maybe for Henry V's society they were the things to do in order to be a commendable king. ?? ?? ?? ?? Raluca Petre 28.02.07 1 ...read more.

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