Henry V: What Qualities Made Them The Greatest Hero King In English History

1518 words - 6 pages

In Shakespeare's Henry V, Shakespeare presents what he portrays as the ideal king. Henry is what could be defined as the ultimate hero. The story of Henry V epitomizes England's idea of a good and fair king. Henry even calls his fellow soldiers his "brothers" to further emphasize the importance of a fair and humble king. He sets the precedent for the need for moral values and justifications in all people, especially a ruler of a country. Shakespeare has portrayed Henry as the archetype for future English kings and the values they should hold.To see how Henry V is an ideal hero-king, it is first essential to define the characteristics of one. Essentially, what makes up a great king are three fundamental elements: nobility, humility, and strength. Nobility, though concise in name, covers a vast number of characteristics. An important part of nobility is morality. A good king has good morals, but an excellent king adheres to his morals and can use them as a foundation to the way he rules. Furthermore, nobility encompasses kindness and forgiveness, for a king cannot be cold and ruthless without reason. Humility, though it may not seem to be at the foremost of a great king's qualities, Henry makes excellent use of this. The English people see a king that is not so distant from them, and they realize that they, too, can be like their king because, in the end, the king is only human. Finally, strength is the most obvious, most basic necessity for the ideal hero-king. If a king does not have the leadership and the courage to rally his men and charge into battle, no one would think highly of him. A weak king results in civil destruction, for there are always rebellious factions that need to be kept in check by a strong king who is not afraid to use force. These are the qualities that embody the ideal king, and Shakespeare makes sure to show that Henry has all of these qualities and much more, as shown throughout of the play.A great achievement of Henry is the transition he made from the crazier days of Hal to the magnificent King Henry V. This is a phenomenal change; to be able to grow and mature from an irresponsible teenager to a fitting ruler is no simple task. In doing so, Henry was forced to give up several parts of his fun filled past, the greatest of those being his friends from the tavern. It seems that Falstaff was an extremely close friend of Henry. Falstaff probably viewed Henry as a sort of adopted son, as he probably taught Henry about the tools of his trade. However, Henry gives up this important figure in his life to completely sever the ties from his past and reestablish himself as a noble king. Because his friends were lower than commoners, being thieves and pickpockets, Henry could not even be in their presence. Henry V had a strict set of morals that he abided by, and he could not afford to compromise his morals because of his desire to be with his friends. For the greater good of the country, Henry had no choice but to leave Falstaff...

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