Henry V in Act 1 and 2

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Angus Walker                                                                                                 3rd May 2007

The Presentation of Henry in Acts I and II

In Acts I and II of Henry V, the King is portrayed in many different ways. These include cautious, honourable, witty and responsible. In these Act I, Henry is debating with the Bishops of Canterbury and Ely whether to go to war with France. They decide to go to war, but only with sensible precautions in place to stop the Scots invading. In Act II Henry deals with three traitors. The scene then moves to the French King’s court, where he and the Dauphin are discussing England’s declaration of war.

 In Act I Scene i the two bishops are discussing the King. Shakespeare uses their dialogue as a device with which we learn Henry’s character. For example we learn that Henry was a troubled youth, and spent hours drinking and banqueting. But then he matures and blossoms into a serious King: “Consideration like an angel came” With this phrase Shakespeare tells us of his change.

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When Henry arrives and inquires as to what the bishops think of the war, Shakespeare presents Henry as responsible, as he says before Canterbury gives his judgement that the bishop should be just as “God doth know how…shall drop their blood in approbation of what your reverence shall incite us to do.” In this sentence Henry is saying that Canterbury must not lie as many will die because of his decision. This presents Henry as responsible as he makes himself accountable for the deaths of many men.

Shakespeare also portrays Henry as pious, as Henry says “God to ...

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