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

    The opinions held by Canterbury and Ely regarding Henry are highly complementary of his demeanour: "The air, a chartered libertine, is still, and the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears to steel his sweet and honeyed sentence", here Canterbury is illustrating Henry as having vast knowledge and being the 'best king ever'.

  2. Why did Charles V fail to crush Luther?

    He was generally supported causing great embarrassment to Leo X. This was the first of many failures of the popes to act. They were very self interested and preoccupied with politics and the shortage of money that was needed to satisfy their luxurious lifestyles.

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

    follows this comment with "and a true lover of the holy Church" again this shows Ely's regard for the King. It is clear that both these characters regard Henry as a very good king and a very religious man. The fact that both Canterbury and Ely view Henry as a

  1. Witchcraft in the Elizabethan era.

    He next complained of impotence. Henry could not afford another divorce action, and he was busy planning his next attempt to procreate and produce a male heir to his throne. Henry VIII married Jane Seymour only several days after Anne Boleyn's execution. It is an undisputed fact that Queen Anne commended her soul to Jesus at least twice before the swordsman beheaded her.

  2. Shakespeare Portrays Henry V as the Model Monarch

    lasted centuries with an Englishman an Irishman and a Scotsman, the argument is made even funnier by the fact that most of them cant speak English properly, or have an foreign accent or a difference in speech, such as the Welsh captain who pronounces B as P, like when he

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

    exceptionally fascinating insight on why Henry VIII?s marriage with Katherine Parr seemed to favour well in terms of royalty, ?she had no intention of becoming a full time carer?, Porter?s (2010, pg 200) speculation is most reliable and trustworthy because it can be seen in Katherine?s appearance as queen in portraits and her behaviour after Henry?s death.

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

    Placing its funds and support at the disposal of the Government. By 1915 2milion men were fighting and women were needed to fill the jobs they left behind. David Lloyd George ? Minister for Munitions, gave Emmeline Pankhurst and the WSPU funds to run demonstrations and meetings to encourage women into the workforce.

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