“Grapple your minds to sternage”, here the prologue is representing the quality of honouring your country, it is also calling the soldiers to follow with their minds in the wake of the ships. This demonstrates Henry as being rousing and excellent at interpreting situations. The prologue also disregards the French soldiers: “For who is he whose chin is but enriched with one appearing hair that will not follow these called and choice-drawn cavillers to France?” This also re-enforces the image of the gallant young English men and reflects on Henry as being able to boost the morale of his soldiers by discounting the opposition. The prologue lastly describes the marriage offer and the small dukedoms that Henry would receive if he surrenders, they are disregarded: “petty and unprofitable”. By including this, Shakespeare is showing the reader that Henry has made a correct decision in not giving into the French, which creates the impression of a level-headed and strong king.
Overall the prologue represents nobility, strength and monarchy, there is a great emphasis on the ocean as being mighty and great like Henry and his men, there is also a disregard for the French and overall positively for the English army.
King Henry’s famous speech to his men before the walls of Harfleur, which takes up all of Act 3 Scene 1, is one of the most celebrated passages in the entire play. Shakespeare uses various images resembling animals, life/death, weather, and nationality in order to strengthen the portrayal of Henry as being noble and majestic, and consequently being able to rouse his men for war.
The opening sentence of Henry’s speech commences with a ploy from Henry: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” here Henry is addressing his soldiers as ‘dear friends’ which is a direct tactic to appear equal with them and to ensure that his soldiers know they are all united and are all facing the prospect of war. By illustrating Henry in this way, Shakespeare is highlighting images of nationality and the way men should act, he is also portraying Henry as being provoking and encouraging. In the opening sentence also, Shakespeare portrays Henry as rousing; “Upon the breach”, here Henry is encouraging his men to go forward and fight.
Shakespeare uses the image of life/death effectively in Henry’s opening sentence: “Or close the wall up with our English dead,” Henry is stressing that it’s a life or death situation and he wants his men to die trying to win the war. In this line, Shakespeare is portraying the image of nationality and the way men should act, in doing so he is illustrating Henry as noble and very loyal to his country.
“In peace there’s nothing becomes a man as modest stillness and humility,” in this line Henry is reassuring his soldiers that when there is no war they can be at peace and kind with each other, this portrays Henry as being considerate and understanding to the feelings of his men. The contrasting next line shows Henry as being rousing and invigorating: “But when the blast of war blows in our ears,” here Shakespeare uses a play on words when referring to “blast of war”, in this line Shakespeare portrays Henry as urging and prompting. In the following lines, Shakespeare uses the images of animals heavily in order to encourage characteristics: “Then imitate the action of the tiger: stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood.” Henry is telling his men to be like the tiger, stiffen themselves and display alertness and strength. Here Henry is portrayed as being stimulating and thought provoking. In the same line Henry tells his soldiers to “conjure up the blood,” here Shakespeare is using a play on words to represent the beating of the heart and adrenaline, and in doing so portraying the image of a king who is motivational. Shakespeare continues to refer to the characteristics of the tiger: “Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage,” by asking his troops to disguise how nice they are and to bring forward rage like the tiger Henry is coming across as motivating to his men to be ruthless, cunning and strong in times of war. In this line Shakespeare uses a metaphor of the tiger, and portrays Henry as noble and loyal.
Although Shakespeare depicts Henry as majestic and inspiring, he is careful not to glorify war and also reflects the harsh realities of war; “Then lend the eye a terrible aspect, let it pry through the portage of the head, like the brass cannon,” Henry is making his men alert to the terrible aspects of war, the language Shakespeare uses such as “brass canon”, represents the words of Henry being drummed into his soldiers head. This portrays the image of a king who is able to spur on his men, and also able to express honesty regarding the aspects of war, additionally it uses war images to add to the effect of the scene.
In the following lines Shakespeare uses the nature theme heavily; “As fearfully as doth a gallèd rock o’erhang and jutty has confounded base, swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.” Henry is describing a rock in a perilous position over a terrible ocean but isn’t scared to look, by describing this image Henry is asking his men to let their heads overwhelm the image. This creates the impression of Henry as being able to mitigate and play down the situation he and his men are in.
Throughout the speech, Shakespeare proceeds to encourage the animal theme; “Now set the teeth ands stretch the nostril wide, hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit to his full hight.” In this quote Henry is allowing his men to soak in the surroundings, grit their teeth and breath, he is also asking them to be proud of themselves and to do their best. This creates the image of an expectant but inspiring king with consideration for his men.
The subject of nationality is also present in Henry’s speech; “On, on, you noble English, whose blood is felt from fathers of war proof,” Henry is rallying his troops and reminding them that they are fighting for everyone back in England. Again Shakespeare is portraying Henry as a nationalist and very patriotic.
“Whose blood is felt from fathers of war-proof, fathers like so many Alexanders have in these parts from morn til even fought, and sheathed their swords for lack of argument,” Henry is reminding his men of their forefathers and refers to them as being war heroes, which means they should be good fighters too. By referring to war heroes of the past, Shakespeare is illustrating Henry as being aristocratic and honourable to his country. Henry also refers to “Alexanders,” meaning Alexander the Great and what a perfect warrior he was, this is what Henry expects from his men. This portrays the image of a king who has high expectations but also is able to inspire and excite his troops in order to be as good as their forefathers.
“Dishonour not your mothers,” here Henry is re-enforcing the importance of nobility, he is also directing them to not let their mothers down and to do their best. Here Shakespeare is using images of nationality and the way men should act, he is also portraying Henry as being able to rally and incite his troops by reflecting on nobility.
Additionally, Shakespeare stresses heredity importance and the way men should act in Henry’s speech; “Now attest that those whom you called your fathers did beget you”, here Henry is telling his troops to prove themselves, they are noble English and have a hereditary duty. Shakespeare here is creating the impression of Henry as proud and noble.
“Be copy now to men of grosser blood and teach them how to war,” in his speech Henry also shows disregard for the French, he rates them as being of a lower social class and asks his men to teach them how to fight.
Towards the latter end of Henry’s speech the qualities of nobility and nationality are re-enforced; “And you, good yeomen, whose limbs were made in England, show us her the mettle of your pasture”, here Henry is telling his troops that they, born in England should show the French what they are made of. This creates the impression of a confident and wise king.
“Let us swear that you are worth your breeding, which in doubt not,” here Henry is addressing his troops on an individual basis, and is stressing their heritage and that they are worth the title of Englishmen. Shakespeare in this quote is creating the impression of a noble and patriotic king, who is able to appeal to his men on their level.
Henry’s quality, depicted by Shakespeare of being an egalitarian continues towards the end of his speech; “For there is none of you so mean and base that hath not noble lusture in your eyes,” here Henry is complementing his men that there is not one man that is not as good as himself, emphasising nobility among his men. Again Shakespeare is illustrating Henry as fair and understanding towards his men, and wanting to remain equal with them.
Shakespeare uses a simile towards the end of Henry’s speech in order to demonstrate the overall high spirits of the army; “I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start,” here Henry is referring to his men as being desperate to fight, almost holding back like greyhounds at the start of a race.
The impression of a composed, reliant and bold king, assured both of his own ability and the ability of his men is created by Shakespeare near the end of Henry’s speech.
Shakespeare uses the image of the war as being like a game; “The game’s afoot,” this metaphor of the war being a game intensifies the adrenaline, anticipation and excitement of beginning the war.
“Follow your spirit and upon this charge,” Henry is telling his soldiers to follow what is inside of them. Shakespeare creates the effect of Henry as being rousing and motivating towards his troops.
The concluding line in Henry’s speech: “Cry ‘God for Harry, England and Saint George’” emphasises the ploy that his men are fighting for England, they are fighting for the patron Saint George who slayed the dragon – they should slay the French. With the last line Shakespeare is creating a king who is highly patriotic and nationalistic.
In its entirety Henry’s speech is written and spoken in verse, which reflects the nobility and the eloquence of Henry, opposite from his old character as Hal. In his speech, Henry unifies his men for his cause and is able to incite and stimulate his men. In the scene, Shakespeare uses techniques of poetry to celebrate and glorify war. Shakespeare particularly stylises Henry to invoke images and metaphors from nature – wild animals like the tiger, and of natural forces like the weather in order to provoke his men to shift into a state of almost unrestrained brutality for war. Shakespeare portrays Henry with great rhetorical skills and tactically inspirational. Shakespeare overall portrays Henry’s overall demeanour as patriotic, eloquent and nationalistic.
In the scene, Henry explores patriotism by exalting all things English and convincing his men to prove that they are worthy Englishmen. Shakespeare creates Henry as rousing and rallying; he also portrays Henry as intelligent and successfully inspiring.
There is an overall high moral and philosophical content in the scene; there are also numerous definitions of what nationalism and patriotism are. The language Shakespeare uses in Henry’s speech that adds to the overall effect of the scene, he uses figurative when referring to the men like greyhounds in the slips. Also, Shakespeare uses extended metaphors in order to distinguish the characteristics between animals and humans, and is also effective in reflecting on which characteristics are better and why.
Although there are not a lot of stage directions in this particular scene, the positioning of Henry as being centre stage whilst delivering the speech reflects on Henry as being charismatic, dynamic and powerful towards his troops. Also, the troops standing around Henry being attentive reflects on the respect they have for Henry.
The overall impression created of Henry is one of strength, nobility and egalitarian. He is able to inspire and entice his men whilst still remaining on the same level as his men. Henry’s eloquent voice evokes respect from his troops, he is able to mitigate situations and also able to invigorate a reaction from his troops when one is needed. Shakespeare portrays Henry in this way in order to re-enforce the play’s main aim – to praise a celebrated monarch.
In the subsequent scene of Act 3 Scene2 we see a possible bathos and it appears that Henry’s speech may have fallen on deaf ears, which raises questions over Henry as a king.
“On, on, on, on, on, to the breach, to the breach,” here we see Bardolph mocking Henry and twisting his words, the repetition re-enforces and contradicts the scene. Nym, Bardolph and Pistol are the main characters in this scene who disaffirm the impressions created of Henry in the previous scene, they all display the opposite characteristics that Henry believes his men should have.
Nym displays fear and antagonism towards the war; “The humour of it is too hot, that it is the very plain song of it,” it appears that Nym is not convinced by Henry’s words and does not want to be convinced. The three continue to mock the king’s words which casts doubt over how effective the king’s speech was; “An sword and shield in bloody field, doth win immortal fame”, Pistol is defying how to be chivalrous and mocking it in a song.
It is also clear that the three are disloyal as Nym expresses fears of getting killed for hiding from fighting; “Abate thy rage, abate thy manly rage! Abate thy rage, great duke! Good bawcock, bate thy rage. Use lenity sweet chuck”, this casts doubts in the audiences minds as to the effectiveness of the King’s speech.
The language used by Nym, Bardolph and Pistol is adverse to the language spoken by the king. The three show no poetic voice when they speak: “Be merciful, great duke, to men of mould!”, this reflects on their cowardice and how dishonourable they are.
Although some may say that the actions of Nym, Bardolph and Pistol are to question Henry’s qualities as king, it is more likely that they are a direct ploy by Shakespeare to contradict their characters in comparison to Henry’s which will consequently complement Henry’s character more. Instead of questioning the king, the audience may also question Nym, Bardolph and Pistol and their loyalty to the King, which re-enforces the effectiveness of Henry as King.
The boy additionally acts as a notable character in this scene, by portraying the characteristics Henry wished his men to have. Firstly, he displays wishes of solidarity and wanting peace: “As bird doth sing on bough.” The boy’s monologue is also widely important to the audiences overall impressions of Henry. He feels disillusioned by Nym, Bardolph and Pistol and their cowardice and thieving ways; “For Bardolph is white-livered and red-faced.”
The boy also realises that the three were trying to teach him how to steal and reflects that it is wrong; “If I should take from anothers pocket to put into mine, for it is plain pocketing up of wrongs”.
“I must leave them and seek some better service. Their villainy goes against my weak stomach and therefore I must cast it up,” the boy is realising that he must find some better examples of men, he has seen a better example in Henry.
The boy overall gives a positive impression of Henry, by deciding to follow him and leaving Nym, Bardolph and Pistol as they are no examples of men. The boy reflects the innocence of a child, and how Henry has influenced him, this shows that Henry’s speech has worked well as he decides to ignore the actions of Nym, Bardolph and Pistol. The boy’s actions reassure the audience of the effectiveness of Henry as king.
The boy’s monologue is spoken still eloquently but not as eloquently as Henry’s. The boy uses contrasts puns in order to reaffirm the sort of people Nym, Bardolph and Pistol are. “White-livered/red-faced”, this contrast by the boy about Bardolph sees Bardolph being referred to as a coward but brave, contrasts him and shows he cannot be both.
The boy also uses puns such as “goes against my weak stomach” meaning makes me feel sick, and “is against my principles”, this re-enforces how the boy has been inspired by Henry.
“Cast it up” meaning vomit and “reject it, “breaks words” meaning breaks his word and “uses words”, and “carry coals” meaning to do any dirty work and “let themselves be insulted”. All these are examples of puns used by the boy to depict Nym, Bardolph and Pistol and their thieving and cowardly ways.
There are many other scenes, which cast Henry in a different light, but still give the impression of a strong and nationalistic King. In Act3 Scene4 Henry’s conversation with the Governor of Harfleur is highlighted. In this scene Henry is portrayed as being severe in his stance towards the Governor; “And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls, your naked infants spitted upon pikes,” Henry is showing strength and stature in his speech he is also not afraid to make threats and to carry them out. Although in this scene Henry can be perceived as being harsh and reckless, overall these characteristics are only brought out in his character during necessary times such as the prospect of war. In general this scene is an important one as it highlights the depths in Henry’s character and his harshness in contrast with his emotional side.
In latter scenes, our impressions of Henry do not change, scenes such as Act 4 Scene 1 were Henry tours his camp in disguise compound our impressions of him as a good king. In Act 4 Scene1 we see the private man Henry, he wants his soldiers to think that he is a good king; “I think he would not wish himself anywhere but where he is,” this is another example of Henry’s wish that his men know he is with them. This creates the impression of Henry as being supportive and considerate towards his soldiers.
It is clear that although Henry wants to appear strong and noble in front of his men; “A little touch of Harry in the night,” Henry’s regard for his men demonstrates an unselfish and loyal king created by Shakespeare.
Henry’s tour of his camp in disguise reflects the burden of the kingship on him; “His ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man,” by showing that Henry is only human like everyone else, Shakespeare is portraying Henry’s burden which he hides from his men. This reflects Henry’s concern for others and his overall successes as a king as he doesn’t let people know he is feeling weak as they might take advantage.
Henry’s concern for a justified war is also notable in this scene; “I would not die anywhere so contented as in the king’s company, his cause being just and his quarrel honourable,” Shakespeare is portraying Henry as wanting his men to know that if they die fighting it was for a just cause. Here Henry illustrates assurance and understanding in his cause for war, his overall audacity and conviction the play is what makes him such a good king.
In this scene, Shakespeare depicts Henry with a fear of God; “not today O Lord oh not today think not upon the fault my father made,” this reflects an acceptance by Henry that what his father did to become king was wrong, but he also doesn’t want the past to effect his chances of winning the battle so he prays for forgiveness on behalf of his father.
Henry also, shows an overwhelming concern for what his men really think of his leadership qualities; “Instead of homage sweet, but poisoned flattery,” Henry shows regard for what his men say about him behind his back. This re-enforces our impressions of Henry as being strong and noble but thriving for reassurance from his men that he is a good leader.
Overall, Henry’s statements and actions in Act 4 Scene1 do not change our altogether impressions of him as a good king, they do however allow the audience to see Henry in a different light, in this scene we see Henry as a more private man, with concern for what his men think of his qualities as a leader. The fact that Henry tours his camp in disguise signifies his dignity and his unwillingness to be seen as weak and unsure in front of his men although he is able to put across his feelings whilst disguised as an outsider. Henry’s fear of being blamed by God for his father’s wrong doings also displays Henry’s willingness to be forgiven. Henry’s reflection of his role as king whilst he is alone is somewhat self-pitying. Shakespeare portrays Henry as finding the responsibility of leader hard as everyone relies on him; “Let us our lives, our sole, our debts, our careful wives, our children and our sins, lay on the king. We must bare all”; it is clear in Henry’s reflection that he feels burdened by the responsibility of king. This different portrayal of Henry’s character is, rather than a negative, a tribute to Henry as king as he is able to hide his uncertainties and remain strong and confident In front of his men. Henry also shows how little pleasure he takes in his own power, he is however motivated by a sense of responsibility to his subjects which he takes very seriously that consequently requires him to place his own personal feelings in the distance. He is unable to express his feelings to anyone else, only when he is alone can he allow him self to feel his own regret. Overall, Shakespeare’s portrayal of Henry as a private and burdened man, does not change our impressions of Henry, it does however allow us to respect him more as it becomes apparent that he hides his own feelings for the sake of others.
We can also use the French King as a significant character in the play and compare his actions to the actions of Henry. In the play, the French King is too easily lead by his advisors and the Dauphin when it comes to making decisions regarding war, whilst Henry remains his own man and is not easily lead although he does still consider others in his decision making. This in its self improves our impressions of Henry as it highlights the differences between two men in the same job.
In conclusion, Shakespeare creates the impression of a noble and nationalistic king in Act 3 Scenes 1 and 2. He portrays Henry with an overall acceptance of his responsibility as king but with equal consideration for his soldiers. On many occasions, Henry is careful to relate to his men as “dear friends”, in order to ensure that his men are aware that he wants them to be on an equal par with himself. As well as consideration, Henry also possesses strength when trying to rouse and incite his troops for the war with France. Henry’s skill of being able to mitigate certain situations and also able to inspire and rouse his troops in other situations makes him a successful king. Shakespeare portrays Henry as an egalitarian with reference to his men, when he addressees his soldiers he takes a non-traditional democratic stance by expressing that everyone of his soldiers is as good a nobleman as himself. Although in some parts of his speech Henry appears to glorify war in order to increases the fighting spirits in his man, on other occasions Henry is careful to note that people should not be fighters all the time, he often states that peace is better than war.
In Act 3 Scene 1 especially, Shakespeare uses various images of nature, war and nationality in order to express the characteristics men of war should poses. By questioning the nationality and manhood of his soldiers Henry gets the response he was looking for which makes him a good king as he is able to turn around situations in his favour.
The tactics Henry uses are effective in their objective, Henry uses his skilful political ability which happens to involve using war in order to achieve the desired effect amongst his soldiers. Henry is also able to remain strong and confident when others are counting on even when privately he is less than sure of himself.
Shakespeare creates a king with two main sides to his character. Henry is often portrayed as strong and noble with a fantastic ability to rouse and inspire his troops in the prospect of war. Henry is successfully able to give definitions of nationality, patriotism and nobility in order to rouse and antagonise his troops to do their best against France. Shakespeare also illustrates Henry as a private and burdened man. When he is on his own, Henry ponders on the burden of being a king and the responsibility of having the dependence of a nation on your shoulders. Although Shakespeare portrays Henry as self-pitying and anxious of the opinions of others, this character is only seen when Henry is in private which is a credit of his ability to remain strong and noble in front of his men in order to encourage and raise their spirits.
The language which Shakespeare uses such as metaphors, figuratives, similes and personification is effective to the genre of specific scenes. In scenes were Henry’s character is noble and majestic he speaks in verse in order to increase the impressions of a noble king. Other character’s speeches are non poetic and are not spoken in verse which reflects on their lack on nobility. The effective language Shakespeare uses adds to the overall effect of the play being about a celebrated monarch.
Overall, Shakespeare portrays the image of a king in Henry who is noble, patriotic and majestic. Henry’s ability to inspire and incite his troops as well as being able to mitigate certain situations whilst taking an egalitarian stance is what makes Henry such a successful king. The portrayal of Henry’s human side by Shakespeare where we see Henry as being insecure and burdened allows the audience to see a different side to Henry’s character and makes his demeanour in front of his troops even more remarkable. In Conclusion, Shakespeare portrays Henry as a noble and majestic King, who is able to adjust his demeanour and stance in different situations in order to achieve the desired response from his men.