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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Essay length: 1302 words

Henry V Coursework

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Melanie Parkes Henry V Coursework From "nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales" to the "mirror of all Christian kings": Select what you consider to be some important episodes in the play and discuss Shakespeare's dramatic presentation of Henry's career. How does Henry come across to an audience as a man and a king? As a young man and heir to the throne, Henry is shown by Shakespeare to be ambitious, calculating and in some respects cold-hearted. At the end of Act One, Scene Two, comes one of the most important speeches in "Henry IV". Hal speaks his soliloquy in verse, which is a contrast to the light conversation earlier in the scene. The verse makes him seem more of a nobleman and is more fitting to the Prince of Wales. He knows that his friends are unsuitable for a prince and that his behaviour has attracted serious criticism. However: "...Herein will I imitate the sun, Who doth permit the base contagious clouds To smother up his beauty from the world." This is not the most endearing of speeches. We have just met Hal's friends and seen how he acts with them, yet here he is planning how he will "throw off" "this loose behaviour".


Henry's youth spent consorting with the lower classes may have played a part in his attitude towards those below him, and given him a virtual insight to what they require. We also see Henry as a skilled and inspiring speaker. When his men are despondent at the sheer numbers of the French compared with their own "ruined band", Henry delivers the rousing St Crispian's Day speech before the battle of Agincourt and fires them all with enthusiasm (Act four, Scene three) Henry is displayed by Shakespeare as a model King and military leader, and in comparison the English are portrayed as the better side as opposed to the less than adequate French side. Shakespeare was obviously somewhat biased when it came to his own country. Although Henry's duties as a King seem flawless we question his character at certain points of the play when his friends become complications in his duties. He shows no favouritism towards Bardolph, who is caught stealing from a church. Henry had given orders for no looting and lets the execution proceed. Also, when Falstaff falls ill, the hostess certainly believes that Henry has acted in an unfeeling way to Falstaff: "the king has killed his heart" This could be considered cold hearted or it could be argued he is fair and firm.


the plays in my opinion Henry generally comes over as a faultless King and military leader, but that Shakespeare the introduces doubts from time to time and that on the personal front Henry shows his limitations. However, if I was only to see two films I don't think there would be any doubt created about Henry's duties as a King or a man. When you read the play, when Bardolph is caught stealing he is hanged and we don't know what Henry is thinking, on the other hand, in Branagh's film it shows Henry genuine grief as he is being hung memories of the Boar's Head Tavern with Bardolph are shown in flashback. Although Henry may have had a bad start, he knew his aims; he knew what he wanted to do and the result of his actions. I cant help but admire Henry for putting his duties as a King first, at even the most difficult times when his friends are involved. He comes over as an inspirational leader, caring for the thoughts of his men and trying to uplift them. Henry as a man is also admirable; he may have his faults with wooing, but I think this reminds us he is human and he still manages to come through on top.

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