Henry V The Character Of Harry Through

Out Essay, Research Paper

In Henry V , reveal how Shakespeare portrays Henry s leadership qualities at different stages of the play, both in his dealings with the French and his treatment of his own men.

Shakespeare, through many stages and events, shows the reader the many leadership qualities possessed by Henry. Through the many events of Henry s reign, Shakespeare builds Henry s qualities, unseen by the reader or Henry s nobles.

Henry speaks in poetry to attract the ear of every potential person around him and to keep them concentrating upon him.

Some qualities are constant throughout the entire play. Henry s ability to turn the moment from bad to good using either highly motivational words (using lots of imagery) or just using his enemies own words and meaning against them (again by using them in imagery driven speeches

We will in France, by Gods grace, play a set )

Henry is forced to show his leadership qualities after he made king. His time before his reign was spent acting in a juvenile manner and Henry s court is not expecting him to the best of all leaders.

Because of his age and his manner as a prince, Ely and Canterbury feel they can persuade Henry s open mind to make a war happen. Henry is clever enough to spot the subtle ways of the archbishop and follow him through his confusing speech where he somehow traces the French crown to Henry from English kings of the past. Although Henry agrees to Canterbury s claims, he warns Canterbury that he should be very wary of the effect his claim on France could have upon the entire country.

When the Dauphin s first message and tennis balls confront Henry, he is angry. It is clear that the Dauphin has mistaken the king Henry for the prince Henry, the Henry that savours too much of his youth . Henry shows this anger not through expressions but through his words in his replying message back to the Dauphin.

We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us That all the courts of France will be disturbed

He shows the Dauphin that he is not a boy anymore, turning the Dauphin s playful image into an image of war.

The English king continues by taking the mockery that the Dauphin created with the tennis balls and turns that against him and into a warning of what will happen when France and England come together in war.

Shall this mock mock out of their dead husbands

Mock mothers from sons, mock castles down;

And some are yet ungotten and unborn,

That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin s scorn.

The next test as new king for Henry is traitors. He knows that he has three men in his council that have been bribed to kill him. Instead of just executing them or telling them he knows, he makes an example of them. He asks them of their opinion (as to not be unfair in his later judgement) about a minor treason charge and they give no mercy; so when they are uncovered as criminal of high treason, Henry turns their own words upon them. More than this he has strengthened the ring of trust in Henry from the rest of his court, showing that he is strong in mind and cunning. This shows his abilities to manipulating people into saying what he wants them to.

The mercy that was quick in us but late

By your own council is suppressed and killed

You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy.

For your own reasons turn into your bosoms,

As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.

He continues referring to them as English monsters showing that he is de-personifying them and making them rejects of the court, so neither Henry, his court or the perpetrators can feel any remorse about the events.

When Henry sends a message to the French king he keeps a sensible and legal tone, as to make him appear very different from what the Dauphin hinted, that he was still foolish and young in mind. As soon as the French king asks for consequences, Henry s message changes to a much darker tone, using imagery: And bids you into the bowls of the Lord

Much like the scene with the traitors, where Henry manipulated the feelings of the traitors and his court, he manipulates the feeling of his troops at the battle of Harfleur.

He takes the part of every man which is raw animal (i.e. the fighting bit), of nobles and paupers alike, and saying that that feeling of hatred and bloodlust is right in this situation. In his speech he uses many metaphoric contrasts to distinguish what men should normally be like at what they should be like in times of war so that they can disguise fair nature with favoured rage .

He also uses language like friends to highlight that on the battlefield he, the king of England is equal with them and them with him.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit

If Henry was a bad leader, he would have proceeded with the destruction of Harfleur but he was clever enough to realise that if France was to be his if he won against the French king. This is where his skill of mental manipulation are shown again. Here he gives the governor such a diabolical choice that there can only be one real outcome. Henry words his speech very imaginatively with many metaphors to make the governor really see what would happen if he didn t surrender. Henry paints pictures of naked infants spitted upon pikes in the governor s head and then offers him the choice to surrender but live and avoid the slaughtermen .

Whilst in at camp in France, Henry finds out from one of his captains that his friend Bardolph from his younger years had been caught robbing a local church. Henry is forced to execute him because of his holy beliefs and that he held the code of war (not attacking/harming innocent bystanders) very seriously.

Henry doesn t talk in poetry like he normally talks to people when he is trying to make an example of people like with Cambridge, Gray and Scroop, which shows the more human side to Henry, the side that regrets doing something because it felt bad to him.

By this time the troops are getting sick with winter coming and communication has broken down between Henry and his troops so henry decides to find out how people feel about him but getting in disguise and talking to a few of the different ranks of troop. Whilst in disguise he talks in prose like a normal person as not to rise suspicions.

This shows Henry s thirst for being able to help his troops by knowing their needs and trying to suit them the best he can.

Henry says things to perhaps make them say bad things about him:

Then you are better than the king?

He does come across a few people who are pessimistic about whether they are going to make it or not and believe that Henry should have ransomed himself. Henry after hearing this makes up fables with which to convince them that the soldiers will not die in vain.

After henry interviews his men he goes back to his courtiers where he probably has his most humanistic speech, his soliloquy. Here he opens up all his feelings about having an excluded lifestyle but then builds to a highly motivational speech.

If we are marked to die, we are enow


That fears his fellowship to die with us

The above section shows the pessimistic section talking about death and that Henry wishes that he was the only one that might die. He then begins to start his ascent by saying any soldier that does not want to be here is free to go and the last thing he want is to be responsible for forcing them into their deaths.

The second half of the speech is the most optimistic passage in the entire play. Where soldiers and people in England will celebrate Crispin s Day and will be able to show the wounds they gained at this great battle. He uses similar techniques as the ones outside Harfleur except he is trying to focus/manipulate the fear of his troops into being patriotic instead of turning them into animals. He achieved this also by levelling the ranks and saying that all ranks were the same on the battlefield; they would all be fighting for a common goal against a common enemy.

Montjoy, the French ambassador, visits the Henry to ask for his ransom again. Instead of just answering no, Henry gets carried away in a patriotic speech.

There s not a piece of feather in our host-

Good argument, I hope, we will not fly-

And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night

They ll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck

The gay new coats o er the French soldiers heads

He is pretty anti-French by now, calling the French countryside dunghills.

At the end of the speech he tells a joke after he tells Montjoy not to return for ransom.

I fear thou lt once more come again for ransom.

Henry s style of speech here is very much like that of his earlier warnings to the French king/Dauphin.

Henry in his speeches draws historical and biblical figures to illustrate his points. At Harfleur he refers to someone war-proof as Alexander the Great; picking great English ancestors of the king. To show a figure of evil he uses king Herod, from the first testament.

by Oliver Warner



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