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Portrait of a King or Template for Kingship?

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Introduction

Portrait of a King or Template for Kingship? In Henry V Shakespeare presents Henry V's reign in the play to the audience. One could state that Shakespeare's main purpose of the play was to demonstrate to the audience the success of Henry as an individual, through his actions and responses throughout the play. Ensuring his personal achievements are known to the audience, portraying him as a good king. Therefore assuming Shakespeare's purpose was to reveal a portrait of Henry V to the audience. On the other hand, the play could have been perceived as a 'guidebook' for kings, simply showing how to respond in certain situations. This could be shown by the decisions Henry makes in particular circumstances and conditions. Also, this thought can come to mind to the audience by how Shakespeare highlights specific qualities of leadership. These can then be referred to modern day kings. Both of these philosophies have come into consideration due to Henry's actions and the particular positions Shakespeare has put Henry in. As soon as the play commences Shakespeare creates an immediate impression of Henry for the audience through a conversation between Canterbury and Ely. ...read more.

Middle

He firstly attempts to rouse his men into a killing frenzy by referring to their primal instinct towards violence and compares how he wishes his men to act to the features of a tiger: 'Then imitate the action of a tiger,' provoking them even further. Henry then refers to nationalistic patriotism, urging them to honour their country, and follow the example of the ancestors proving that they are worthy of being called English: 'Dishonour not your mothers; now attest that those whom you called fathers did beget you.' This speech also allows each man to feel as significant as the next: 'that hath not noble lusture in your eyes.'At the end of the speech Henry attaches St. George, the patron saint of England, to his legendary battle cry, it shows that Henry puts his men in his best interest and wishes them to feel calm and relaxed therefore providing his men with a treasured and familiar symbol of the patriotic ideals he espouses in his rally cry. Altogether, this speech indicates to the audience Henry's gift of eloquence and how he respects his men and doesn't feel over them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Good leaders need presence of care and consideration for all their men, which Henry demonstrates cleary in this scene After much tension between England and France, Henry is noble enough to make peace with them and give consent to Charles to retain his throne. However, Henry has a list of demands, the first of which is that he gets to marry his distant cousin, Princess Katherine of France. That way, Henry and his heirs will inherit France as well as England. Shakespeare has shown that Henry understands he is in a position where he can control the French king, therefore he uses this to his advantage gaining what he wishes out of the agreement. In conclusion Henry's assets are demonstrated throughout the play. As there are so many situations and circumstances these actions can be conceived to the audience that Shakespeare was using the play as a template for kingship rather than a portrait of a king. The different extents of these situations concludes most conditions kings would ever be put under and these leadership qualities are specifically highlighted throughout the play. However one could argue that the play was based on actual historical events therefore the play flowed as it would have in real life. ...read more.

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