Henry V Speech Analysis
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Henry V persuasion speech analysis. Once more unto the breach dear friends once more. This speech given by Henry 5th is set at the siege of the French town Harfleur, where Henry's miners have blown a breach in the outer wall and his soldiers are reluctant to enter the castle as they know that it means almost certain death. Henry is trying to persuade them to rush into the breach. Shakespeare's speech for Henry is decasyllabic, ( each line has 10 syllables) showing that Henry is a noble man. "dear friends" In the first line of the speech Henry addresses his soldiers personally, this creates a feeling of comradeship and allows him to gain their trust, with the intention of increasing their loyalty to him as they feel that they are respected and held in high esteem. "Or close the wall up with our English dead" Henry does not lie to his soldiers; he is honest and tells them that it is better for them to die fighting like heroes than cowards that will end up filling up the breach with their dead bodies. This reinforces the soldiers trust in Henry as they feel that he is openly addressing the situation at hand and he earns their respect by doing so. "In peace there's nothing so becomes a man As modest stillness and humility;" Shakespeare uses sibilants which are consonants that are pronounced with a hissing sound in 'peace', 'modest' and 'stillness' and rallentando which is a gradual slowing of pace, to modulate the speech .Henry indicates to his soldiers that they are good honest men, even though he knows that most of his army was made up of thieves and murders, however it allows them to feel noble and inflates their self esteem , which serves Henry's purpose.
Shakespeare also states that Henry's men are 'rough and hard of heart' implying that they have no sympathy for the French people. "mowing like grass" In the modern day this brings to mind the mowing down of men using a machine gun, however Henry's soldiers would be using long swords Shakespeare uses this to build a picture in the governors head of his citizens being hacked down and brutally murdered. "Your fresh fair virgins and your flow'ring infants" Henry is clearly indicating to the governor that the weak and defenceless will be targeted. "What is it then to me" Henry is acting as if he does not care about the welfare of his adversaries reminding the governor that there will be no mercy. "when you yourselves are cause," If the governor refuses to surrender and the French get beaten then the blame lays solely on the governor. In this way Henry isolates the governor, and puts pressure on him by holding him responsible for the outcome. "If your pure maidens fall into the hand Of hot and forcing violation? What rein can hold licentious wickedness" This is directed towards the citizens who are listening to the speech. It strikes fear in to their hearts and singles out the governor as he is saying that once his soldiers are let lose they cannot be controlled and the governor will be the person who set them lose, if he doesn't surrender. "We may as bootless spend our vain command Upon th' enraged soldiers in their spoil, As send precepts to the Leviathan To come ashore." Assimilating his soldiers with the 'Leviathan' ( A mythical sea monster)
"This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered-" Henry is telling them that they will become legends and heroes. This makes them feel energized and fearless. "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother;" He calls them his brothers removing all class barriers and thus gives them the carrot of being regarded as nobility. Fighting like brothers side by side will also give his army more strength. "And gentle men in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day." The first two lines here refer to the beginning of the speech where Westmoreland said that 'O that we now had here But one ten thousand of those men in England That do no work to-day!' Henry has managed to completely turn this around by saying that those men back in England laying safe in their beds will curse themselves for not being here and think less of their manhoods when they hear the stories of the brave solders who fought on Saint Crispin's day St. In this way Henry cleverly convinces his solders to fight like brothers and if they fight with great zeal they are assured to win and will forever be remembered in history. Henry's invigoration of his solders paid off when they won the battle and the French reported to him that the number of French dead was about twenty thousand and the number of English dead was a mere twenty nine. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ravi Lakhani 10Y 13/04/2009 1
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