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

'In political terms, King Henry V and The Rover are conservative plays which ensure that subversive elements are ultimately contained'. Discuss this statement.

Extracts from this document...


'In political terms, King Henry V and The Rover are conservative plays which ensure that subversive elements are ultimately contained'. Discuss this statement. King Henry V and The Rover have a political content but the exploration of that content is specific to the playwright. King Henry V encourages the audience to share in the experience of the King's journey through the war with the French and the political problems that surround the king's position. However, The Rover is concerned with political issues surrounding gender relationships, concept of courtship and marriages and the opinions of women, contrasted directly with those of men. In context, the plays had to be slightly conservative, King Henry V was written in the later years of Elizabethan era, between 1595 - 1599. At this time there was constant political unrest and fear of rebellions from the large Catholic minority. Similarly, Aphra Behn, writing The Rover in 1667 had seen much political unrest through her life. Working in the Restoration theatre allowed much more freedom of speech but a playwright had to be careful not to offend Charles II, as Behn herself was imprisoned for this very reason. In Act 1 scene 2 we see the King's search for justification for the war with France. He reminds the Archbishop of Canterbury that he should not 'fashion, wrest or bow your reading' (King Henry V, page 130). The horrors of war are explicitly described and the justification of battle should be appropriate to prevent a 'waste in brief mortality.' ...read more.


At Harfleur he encourages them to 'Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage.' (King Henry V, page 202) He makes the patriotic themes of honour and courage explicit and incites passion within those who hear him, referring to them as a 'band of brothers.' (King Henry V, page 291) He manages to turn his military from an under-fed and apprehensive huddle to a fierce fighting force of men. However, when wooing Katherine he speaks in prose and declares he cannot 'look greenly nor grasp out my eloquence.' (King Henry V, page 355) This is contrary to the impression we have gained through his political rhetoric throughout the play. So, is the King a passionate leader or an adaptable politician who can manoeuvre his language to suit his purpose? In contrast to the heavy military element of King Henry V, Aphra Behn's The Rover provides us with an insight into a woman's perspective of marriage and courtship through the Restoration era. Restoration drama dealt with the follies and affectations of high society, which provides a light relief to the Puritanism ethic. (Shakespeare, Aphra Behn and the Canon, page 132) The Rover opens with Florinda and Hellena discussing their potential futures. This itself is interesting that Aphra Behn chose to give women a public voice from the outset, and not only that, but the will and courage of the women is striking. Florinda is slightly more restrained than the feisty Hellena but they are both opposed to the idea of arranged marriages. ...read more.


His later anger doesn't serve to endear him any more to the audience than previously with his condemnations of 'damnable women [...] A generation of damned hypocrites.' (The Rover, page 226) the other element is the fact that Florinda is almost made to pay for Lucetta's crimes as Blunt uses his anger as an excuse in his attempt to rape her; 'Sir, must I be sacrificed for the crimes of the most infamous of my sex.' (The Rover, page 226) The political trend in both King Henry V and The Rover are both subversive to a point. As a spectator of King Henry V I would perhaps think the play exemplified an excellent leader and his astounding ability to reform himself for the good of his nation. I think the subversive elements of King Henry V are mainly contained within the text itself and a close reading provides us with an insight into the potential corruption of governing bodies. In contrast to this, The Rover is overtly subversive, it literally turns society's values on its head - proving that women have the potential to be an equal voice alongside that of men. The weaker sex is shown to be the male counterparts to a point - with Willmore's insatiable lust and Blunt's self-deceit. The women are witty, intelligent and independent within their own right. I think the strongest message comes from Angellica - advertising her wares and running and commercial business - just like Behn. Most women had to face the same choices and those that didn't conform were often morally attacked. ...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. Shakespeare Portrays Henry V as the Model Monarch

    After the battle we hear of the brave deaths of two English nobles and of the cowardly slaughter by the French of the boys who were with the English army's baggage. The French herald comes to concede defeat and to ask Henry's permission to gather the dead.

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

    At the beginning of Henry V in Act 1 Scene 1, Canterbury and Ely discuss the transformation in Henry's character following the death of his father: "The courses of his youth promised it not. The breath no sooner left his father's body but that his wildness mortified in him seemed to die too".

  1. Henry V Character Analysis

    them thinking positively by he himself claiming that "There is some soul of goodness in things evil". The fact that he wants to "Do my good morrow to them" and see them in their camp on the morning before the battle shows a certain attachment that he has for his soldiers.

  2. Aphra Behn.

    A parallel can be drawn between this and the idea at that time of women being the property of men, a theme that Behn uses in her play 'The Rover'. Nowadays the play is viewed very much from a feminist angle.

  1. Explore the Nature of Kingship In "Henry V".

    that although Henry is powerful he views himself as a normal citizen. Henry's other rousing speech is seen before the battle of Agincourt. "We few, We happy few, we band of brothers" again Henry shows his good leadership skills, he equals himself to his men "we".

  2. In an essay of not more than 1500 words discuss the representation of masculinity ...

    90-95). The Dauphin boasts of the French's superiority over England, feminising the English with 'And let us do it with no show of fear - / No, with no more than if we heard that England / Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance;/ For, my good liege, she is

  1. The changing position of women and the suffrage question. Revision notes

    The Labour Party Reaction * In 1918, the Labour party published a new constitution making women one of the several affiliated groups. * Women?s sections were set up. * HOWEVER, the labour party was dedicated to removing inequalities in society but often these policies and bills were directed at the rights of the working man no the working woman.

  2. Wives & War: To what extent did these two aspects undermine Henry VIIIs rule ...

    That surely would undermine his propaganda image of being the absolute greatness English king, chosen by God himself (Chrisp 2003, pg 177). Katherine seemed to have brought about stability in the royal household by the year 1543 ?as a result of her gentle initiative? (Wooding 2009, pg 230), she encouraged

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