What makes Henry V such an effective leader?

Authors Avatar
What makes Henry V such an effective leader?

In the play, Henry V is portrayed as a very good king, and more importantly, a very good leader. This is because Henry has some distinguishable characteristics which create this great image of him.

Henry has an amazing quality of speaking. He has the ability to change his style of rhetoric to suit the mood and atmosphere that he is trying to create. At times in the play Henry has to persuade his people that he is one of them and that there is a bond or unity between them, almost as if he and they are brothers, all the sons of the same God and the same Country - England. This is the case particularly outside Harfleur when Henry is rousing his men to fight bravely. He creates a unity between them by using words like 'yours' and 'our' a lot -

"Dear friends ... you noble English ... made in England ... you are worth your breeding".

- This is a summary of the speech and it shows how Henry creates a relationship with his subjects, and how he creates a strongly patriotic atmosphere. Whereas outside Harfleur, when Henry speaks to the governor of the town (in Act 3 Scene 4), he displays his ability to put fear into an enemy. With harsh language he puts across dreadful images of his enemy's "naked infants spitted upon pikes". This instantly conveys a huge amount of terror into the men of Harfleur, who consequently surrender. This demonstrates just how powerful Henry's rhetoric is. These two situations show Henry's ability to adapt to the situation. They also demonstrate how Henry always has to change his personality and temperament.
Join now!

Henry is very able to change his character to match the situation that he is facing. On the one hand, he needs to be an inspirational idol for his army. Yet, on the other hand, he has to carry out his duty to be cruel and strict. He is sometimes required to be merciless, and at other times needed to be merciful. These apparent two-faced attitudes of Henry merely display the differences between when he needs to be a leader, and when he needs to be a human. As the Italian writer Machiavelli once famously wrote "It is ...

This is a preview of the whole essay