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Shakespeare's Henry V

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Introduction

Analyse Shakespeare's presentation of King Henry throughout the course of the play King Henry is the eponymous protagonist of the play 'Henry VI'. Shakespeare uses exposition at the very beginning of the play via the Chorus in the Prologue to give the audience clues of Henry's character, describing him as "Warlike Harry..., assume the port of Mars," Mars, being the God of War, therefore gives the audience the immediate impression that Henry is a mighty warrior. Exposition is also used in Act 1 Scene 1 via the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely. They tell the audience how Henry has grown from the wild youth of Prince Hal in 'Henry IV Parts I and II' into King Henry. From this section we learn many of Henry's characteristics. They describe him as a politician, "Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs," also as a tactful warrior, "List his decourse of War." Therefore in the opening lines of the play - the audience have a specific idea of what to expect when Henry enters. The audience is given the impression that Henry is a strong warrior by the Chorus in the Prologue. This goes on to become on the main aspects of Henry's character throughout the rest of the play. ...read more.

Middle

They greatly underestimate Henry and do no realise that he has changed. We can see other ways Henry has been presented as a King in other interpretations of the play, for example Kenneth Branagh's 1989 film adaptation. In the film, Henry is often dressed in bright colours and expensive materials and wearing a crown. Also, when making speeches he is usually on a horse or standing on something that raises him up. This shows his higher status. Another aspect of Henry that is presented throughout the play is his role as a politician. We mainly see this in the first and last scenes of the play. In Act 1 Scene 2 Henry is extremely concerned about the laws in France, "why the Salic law that they have in France or should or should not bar us in our claim." He wants to ensure that he has a just cause to go to war with France and makes Canterbury go into great detail about the laws. The inevitable outcome of the war was that King Henry conquered France. We see in Act 5 Scene 2 that Henry has drawn up a Peace Treaty. Although they are in France, in the French Kings palace in Troyes, Henry is very much in control of the proceedings. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here Shakespeare is telling the audience that Henry is just a man and feels fear like any other man. He goes on to say that Henry has to hide his fear otherwise is would dishearten his army. Henry is also presented by his love for Katherine. In Act 5 Scene 2 we see all Henry's harsh, warrior characteristics melt away as he becomes quite romantic. During this scene he affectionately shortens her name to "Kate" and flatters her throughout. He humbles himself as he tries to speak French to her. Towards the end of the scene he kisses her. Followed by - "You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate." He is spell-bound by his love for her. This shows us that even though he has huge responsibility as King and must be strong and brave as a warrior, he is still able to feel love. Throughout the course of the play Shakespeare employs many techniques to present Henry. Shakespeare presents him as a strong King, warrior and politician. But despite being constantly compared to Gods and famous historical warriors, Shakespeare presents Henry as an actual human being. Throughout the play we see Henry's inner-most thought and feelings, his hopes and fears. Shakespeare's presentation of Henry's emotions show that he is just an ordinary man, this helps the audience connect with Henry as they can relate to him. Subsequently, he audience feels more involved with the play. ...read more.

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