Henry V is commonly held to be a great English hero, a model king and/or a symbol of much that is good about England, in which ways do you think that Shakespeare’s play supports and challenges this view? What is your own opinion of Henry? In the play, Henry is portrayed from the start as being a young and unimpressionable King; His youth is showed by the way he makes rash decisions, before thinking them through completely. He is very headstrong and wants the best for his country.
Henry has many good points, which reflect his personality. He is very inspirational, he has confidence and that confidence shows in his long and illustrious speeches, he has a great emphatic persona, and he is always keen to encourage his men, and he leads by example, always first into battle, on his huge horse. What he is trying to do is prove to his men that the impossible can seem possible if you try. He is a man of action; once he has committed to fight he will not retreat until dead or defeated.
He does not bend the truth and goes strait to the point in hand, rather than avoiding the issue, this could be a reason why his men follow him, as he is down to earth and is not like the normal royalty or nobles, so they can start to relate with him. Henry is very religious, He uses this to his advantage by saying that every victory was Gods work, and when he has lost a battle or suffered heavy losses, he says that he moves in mysterious ways.
He does this because his men will not question his decision-making and will be constantly loyal, this is actually clever, as he is avoiding mass desertion and can rally his troops using biblical lines and phrases. He relies heavily on the guidance of the members of the clergy that he surrounds himself in, when there are difficult matters to be addressed, he asks his bishops for advice and guidance. This is the side of Henry that is his weakness, as he is such a young king, he can be impressed upon, this means the bishops and archbishop can manipulate his crucial decisions, e. . when he asks if he has gods permission to proceed with the invasion of France, the men of the cloth decide and make Henry prepare for invasion. Henry is extremely brave; he shows little fear when he leads his men into battle, and shows courage when he speaks and addresses other nobles and royalty, he shows no fear, and will not be forced into doing anything against his will, other than the men of the church.
Henry is very honourable, this is shown, because he is anxious to have a rightful claim to the French throne. With this in mind, he seems to want to make sure that god is on his side, and if he didn’t have a right to the throne god would have changed his side and supported the French. As a child and youth, Henry was very rebellious and was not thought to be able to take the stress and privileges of kingship. But once he was crowned, he seemed to mature over night as it were.
He has proved his maturity by executing his childhood companion. He is completely devoted to his job and to his god. Henry is also very mercifull, and he does not insisit that the drunken man should be hung, and he excuses him. This can be seen as a good point but also as a weakness. At Harfluer, he uses some of his greatest charictoristics and rallys his men, and convinces them to fight with increased brutality and flare, making sure that the battle will eventually be won by the noble English.
Continuing from this point however, he is very particular that his men fight with honour, and not rob and rape the towns that battles are fought near, this proves that he is a very noble king and is worthy of his throne. On the eve of battle, Henry walks between the ranks of his men, showing his familiarity and his ability to be involved with his men, to me, this would suggest that he wants the soldiers to understand that he is a king, but also a human being at the same time, as on the day of battle, one or more of those men could save his life.
Fluellen suggests in the play, that Henry is a courageous warrior, like Alexander the great, this proves that his men and follwers have enormous faith in him as a leader and as a warrior. On the other hand, Henry is a very humble man, as he does not want to put any victory that his army has, as his own inginuety and strategic planning, he puts it down as gods work. Henry is a very charming king, but he is also bashfull at the same time, u can see this when he becomes flirtatious with the daughter of the French king.
He also shows humility when he returns to England, as he puts the victories down to his men and god, and does not accept much responsibility for the whole campaign. But, on the other hand, Henry does have a few down points; such as his sincerity of his religious faith, he is sometimes too religious for his own good, while him being humble is a good thing, the religious side can make him make wrong decisions, and also control his actions completely.
For example; when he asks the archbishop if he has the right to invade France, the archbishop will always say yes, because that means more land for him to control. As Henry is so young, he has little experience of kingship, let alone battle experience. Youth can bring a lot of life, but this can be undermined by the haste to make important decisions. Incorporating my first and second point, it shows that he is very weak minded, and is not 100% sure of decisions that have to be made without thought, and he relies on his advisors for guidance.
In Henrys good points, I said that he cares about his men, but does he feel the same for the humble peasant? The answer, no one can answer, as there is no opportunity to pass judgement on this from the play it is merely assumption. Henry is sometimes incredibly considerate ( the drunk), but treats the traitors with little remorse, and even less remorse is shown to his childhood companion, which can be put down to both indecisiveness and his maturing nature.
As the traitors are bought into light, u have to consider that when it says the whole nation is behind him, the traitors completely undermine this, and u have to look back and see that the nobles have been manipulating the king. Henry might have been considered a little brutal to the governor, by issuing very graphic and horrific threats, that any person in the governors position, would have had to consider the threat very carefully.
Also, continuing on the remorseless theme, he showns no remorse or regret after bardolf’s execution. When the battle has been fought, Henry seems to place the blame of all the soldiers deaths upon himself. This could possibly mean that he shows too much self pity in recognising the tough responsibilities if kingship. IN my opinion, I think Henry is a good king, with a good idea of how to treat people, he has a few bad points, but then again so does everyone.