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Henry V - "The play's aim is to celebrate heroic actions under a heroic King"

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Introduction

Henry V Henry V is a play written by William Shakespeare around the year 1591. Henry V is based on the real campaign that King Henry V of England led into France in 1415 for the French crown, Henry accomplished some great victories during this campaign, the most notable being the Siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt. The siege lasted around a month until the French surrendered, and then came the Battle of Agincourt. This is well documented in Shakespeare's Henry V, although dramatised. It was such an astonishing feat because the English were outnumbered somewhere between 2-1 and 5-1. Something that is generally forgotten these days is that in the times Shakespeare wrote the play, it was always performed on stage in front of a large audience. Going to the theatre to watch plays, cockfights and bear baiting were considered to be the main forms of entertainment in those days. People of all different classes went to see Shakespeare's plays, and they were performed at The Globe Theatre in London. The Globe Theatre was rebuilt several years ago after being burned down centuries ago. Shakespeare's plays were a lot more famous in the days of Shakespeare. The play of Henry V is divided into 5 acts with several scenes in each, as was the traditional style. ...read more.

Middle

He says "To mark the full fraught man, and best endowed with some suspicion. I will weep for thee for this revolt of thine, methinks, is like another fall of man." In Act 3, we see the patriotic, brave side of Henry. He makes what is commonly regarded as the most well known speech of the play, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends..". This proves Henry to be a brilliant orator; he incorporates flattery, patriotism (" On, on you noble English!" and "And you, good yeomen, whose limbs were made in England, show us here the mettle of your pasture"), the way he speaks to them as individuals, by calling them dear friends and the way he challenges them to prove themselves to him ("In peace there's nothing so becomes a man", "Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof, Fathers that like so many Alexanders" and "Dishonour not your mothers") to deliver a speech that rouses his troops for one last charge at Harfleur, which Henry needs desperately to continue the campaign. This is Henry as a King, determined and proud. In Act 4 Scene 1 Henry goes about his men's camp in disguise and talks to them, to find out what they really think of the King and the Campaign. He pretends to be an ordinary foot soldier and speaks to Bates, Court and Williams. ...read more.

Conclusion

He then tells Warwick and Gloucester to follow Fluellen to stop a real fight breaking out. Finally, in Act 5 Scene 2 we see the romantic, gentlemanly side of Henry. In the French King's Palace at Troyes he tries to gain Princess Katherine's hand in marriage. The French royalty and his own captains are there. The French agree because it would help make peace between the two countries, the marriage is for political purposes. Henry, however, does not need to convince Katherine to marry him. He is allowed to marry her regardless, so courting her is merely a formality. I believe that the reason he does anyway is that he wants her to actually love him, for the marriage not just to be a political agreement. The dictionary defines a hero as: A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life. From this definition, I believe the statement "The play's aim is to celebrate heroic actions under a heroic King" is true. The play is based around Henry and his achievements and I think Shakespeare did his best to make Henry appear as a hero. Henry is indeed noted for his feats of courage and nobility of purpose. He risked his life many times in battle, charging into the battle rather than cowering outside the battlefield. I believe Henry's actions in France are and were generally considered heroic. ...read more.

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