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Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of the ways in which Henry is a great king.

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Charlotte Edwards HENRY V Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of the ways in which Henry is a great king. Shakespeare presents Henry V as a good king, and more importantly, a good leader and gives Henry many positive characteristics in order to create this image. Henry is a good orator. He has the ability to change his style of rhetoric to suit the mood and atmosphere that he is trying to create. At times in the play Henry has to persuade his people that he is one of them and that there is a bond or unity between them, almost as if he and they are brothers, all the sons of the same God and the same Country - England. This is the case particularly outside Harfleur when Henry is rousing his men to fight bravely. He creates a unity between them by using words like 'yours' and 'our': "Dear friends ... you noble English ... made in England ... you are worth your breeding". On the other hand, when they are outside Harfleur, and Henry speaks to the governor of the town (in Act 3 Scene 4), he displays the ability to put fear into his enemy. With harsh language he puts across dreadful images of his enemy's "naked infants spitted upon pikes". This instantly conveys a huge amount of terror into the men of Harfleur, who consequently surrender. This demonstrates just how powerful Henry's rhetoric is. ...read more.


These display his mental sharpness. At the beginning of the play Henry replies to insult with wit and intelligence. He replies to the Dauphins insolence by turning his sarcasm into a metaphorical speech, which can be interpreted either as a joke, or as a threat. "And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his hath turned his balls into gun-stones" Although this is a witty remark, but when it is interpreted as a metaphor then one realises that Henry is actually declaring war on France. This is also another example of Henry's rhetoric skills. This speech by Henry obviously required intelligence to continue the metaphor so well. When he is betrayed by his colleagues he slyly makes them decide upon their own death in a psychological game he plays. After asking them what they thought a traitors fate should be he carries out their decision on them - death. "You show great mercy if you give him life," says Gray, one of the conspirators. Another says that he should be killed in order to set an example towards other conspirators. The King then punishes them exactly the way they dictated, by handing them their death warrant. He can be a very sensitive leader, who cares what his subjects think about him. Henry feels very strongly about how his decision to attack France could affect his subjects - even when Pistol offends the King, Henry says "God be with you" just so that he doesn't lose his support. ...read more.


Also, in the prologue of Act IV the chorus describes the scene in the French and English camps the night before the battle: the quiet night, the burning watch fires, the clank of the knights being suited up in their armour. Descriptions like this help to keep the audience interested and make the play more realistic and exciting. * Use of inspiring speeches made by Henry. For example, perhaps the most famous speech of the entire play, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more," Where Henry unifies his men for his cause. The whole of this stirring passage uses the techniques of poetry to celebrate and glorify war. In particular, Henry invokes images and metaphors from nature - of wild animals like the tiger and of natural forces like the weather - to urge his men to shift into a state of nearly uncontrolled ferocity for battle. He commands his men to "imitate the action of the tiger. / Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood, / Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage" is a call to arms, a call for his men to display their masculinity and to fight. * Use of sound effects. There are several times when Henry enters with a flourish of trumpets (Act III, scene iii) or with a drum roll and fanfare (e.g. Act III scene vi) The use of sound effects such as this would keep the audience alert and the adrenalin racing. 3 What do you like about the play? ...read more.

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