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Dysfunction and Parannoia

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Focusing on the traitor scene: Act II Scene II, How does Shakespeare portray Henry? In the opening scene in Henry V, the bishops Canterbury and Ely are first to mention King Henry. They discuss the sudden transition of Henry from an unruly youth to an almost revered monarch. Henry, having had such a mutinous past, surely cannot be transformed into a brilliant and successful leader - must've there been any reason for it? Through the metaphor, "The strawberry grows under the nettle", Ely explains that Henrys transformation into a successful leader was nurtured under the 'nettle' of his profligacy. This conveys the idea that his previous behavior could've all been an act with which his 'true self' could have been developed through and perhaps made more evident; or possibly the opposite, where in fact Henry had to sacrifice his hedonism for the purpose of being a good leader. Henry was portrayed as a weak leader through the first scene: he was seen as indecisive, lacking confidence and easily manipulated by the Church. ...read more.


Phrases such as 'the execution and the act' don't seem out of place when put into context with what else is being said to the traitors, however as the audience are aware of Henry's aim; it is clear how easily they are blindly falling into Henry's trap. This just clarifies the fact that Henry is manipulative: the traitors are completely unaware anything is wrong, and the audience is given constant reminders to how Henry is about to act. He appears to act on the interest of the nation 'seeking no revenge' and kill the traitors for 'our kingdoms' safety'. However it could be doubted that his leadership overrules his personal wants partly because he had already known of the plot for a while. This gives the thought that Henry had carefully been thinking of a scheme to make him not appear as a tyrant. When he accuses the traitors his language uses exaggeration. He uses rhetorical questions excessively, repeating 'why, so didst thou' four times and compares the situation of the men's betrayal to Man's betrayal of god. ...read more.


Being humane by showing mercy and being ruthless in regards to the role as a stronger leader, is meaningless. He makes the quick assumption that he is wrong in being moral and should be decisive and abide by the laws - which isn't always the traits of a good leader. Henry uses the excuse for his previous (some may say tyrannical) actions for his success in leadership. This insinuates that he is good kind-hearted man who has had to sacrifice his own friendships for the sake of good leadership. However it could also evoke the fact that he is a tyrant using the excuses for leadership as excuses for his own revenge. Shakespeare hints at this through Henry's rhetoric and complex language contrasting with the inept and prose-written language of the common man. Regardless of this point, the audience can evidently see the commoner's grief over Falstaff's death, whilst Henry sentences them, without showing his true feelings. This evokes Henry's cold character and suggests that underneath all the different surfaces of his nature, that he is ultimately a tyrant. ...read more.

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