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Interpretations of War in Shakespeare’s Henry V

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  • Essay length: 1749 words
  • Submitted: 11/07/2002
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AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics

The first 200 words of this essay...

Jessica M Sullivan

LT 319 - Shakespeare

November 28, 2001

Interpretations of War in Shakespeare's Henry V

Shakespeare's historical drama, Henry V, is consumed with the overwhelming theme of war and how each character comes to justify or interpret it. Henry V himself, fearless leader of the English forces, embraces the war while glorifying and romanticising their efforts through his actions and speeches. Characters such as Michael Williams, however, are unsure about the King's reasons for entering battle against France, yet continue to support the crown and fight anyway in their loyalty. In contrast to these noble outlooks on the war, Shakespeare also introduces characters that instead use the situation for their own benefit. In the very beginning of the play, we already see the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely creating a clever, political strategy which is to distract King Henry with the war so that he forgets about the bill to confiscate church property. As well, the vulgar commoners Corporal Nym, Ancient Pistol, and Lieutenant Bardolph use their role in the war as soldiers in order to loiter, as they are cowards more concerned with thieving. But

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