How does Shakespeare shape the audience's response to Henry V?

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Dan Dowling 10N Wednesday 8th Dec 04 Shakespeare Coursework How does Shakespeare shape the audience's response to Henry V? We have read Shakespeare's Henry V and will be exploring how Shakespeare presents Henry's character, and how an audience would react to the ambiguity in his characterisation. Henry V was a king in Henry V, the eldest son of Henry IV and Mary Bohun, was born in 1387. His only child, the future Henry VI, was born in 1421. Henry proposed to marry Catherine in 1415.Catherine was the French princess at the time, Catherine's father, Charles VI refused and Henry declared war, opening yet another chapter in the Hundred Years' War. The French war served two purposes - to gain lands lost in previous battles and to focus attention away from any of his cousins' royal ambitions. Henry, possessed a masterful military mind and defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt in October 1415, and by 1419 had captured Normandy. Had Henry lived a mere two months longer, he would have been king of both England and France. The first description of Henry shows his strength. Henry is described as an angry person, who thinks the world is at his feet, the Bishops want him to take over France, and this suggests that he is fierce and powerful.


Henry shows how strong he is by stating that they can speak freely of their acts, and that he can rule large countries without failing. This shows that he is being brave and trying to make sure that the people that he reigns over do not revolt against him for trying to invade France. At this point the audience see Henry as a very powerful king, and that he cares for his country as well as himself and the war he is about to start. Some Kings would be focused on the war, not everything, this shows that he is committed to being a good King. However, after all the high expectations the audience have of Henry and the good qualities he shows when he enters, his behaviour in the rest of the scene show first appearances can be misleading. The audience see a different side to Henry at this point. Henry asks the ambassadors to speak in a very polite way, as friends. Henry has been sent some tennis balls. The Dauphin is saying that he is still a little boy and that he should stop playing games. The audience would be annoyed at what the Dauphin has said about Henry as the audience have been convinced that Henry was a good king and that he does his job well.


was angry because he now had to deal with them as well as the French and the Scottish, as well as his own country. Henry decided to sentence them; he was getting very wound up and angry. The audience's impression will be that he is losing control and is becoming annoyed about the Dauphin calling him a child when he wants to take over control of France as well as control over England. To conclude, Shakespeare seems to want to present Henry as a combination of greatness and weakness. Overall, Shakespeare has shown Henry to be a great man by showing that he could take control over two countries and run them greatly due to his great skills at being king. Shakespeare showed that Henry has several weaknesses in several different ways, one of which was by using the Dauphin to call him a child, this shows that he can lose control quite easily, just by someone moderately insulting him I think that he audience will see him as quite a strong king, even though he has several weaknesses. Shakespeare has shown him to be a good king; overall I think that Shakespeare built up the expectations of Henry so that the audience would keep on changing their personal views of Henry

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