Henry V: What Kind Of Man Was He?

2644 words - 11 pages

GCSE Coursework Essay Ilham Mukhtar


What Kind Of Man Was Henry?

King Henry V's character in Shakespeare's play 'Henry V' is very ambiguous. He is very different in each and every speech he made. We see a completely new Henry in every one of the speeches. So to get a better understanding of his character I will be analyzing five of his major speeches form his play. In every speech, I will show how Henry uses different techniques to convey his thoughts, feelings and ideas.

His first speech in Act One, Scene Two is very impressing. He uses a wide range of techniques and carefully chosen words to convey his message. In this scene he is presented by a message and a gift form the Dauphin, the eldest son of the French King. The gift is a box consisting of half a dozen tennis balls. This implies that Henry is still a kid, incapable of ruling a country and therefore should just go and play games. This joke is an insult to the king and would certainly fill anyone with anger. However, this is not the case with the king. He does not burst with rage, in fact he stays calm and silent, proving that he is not a kid anymore, while he thinks of a reply to that insult. He comes up with a very intelligent way of converting this insult into his victory. He starts off sarcastically saying "We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us/His present and your pains we thank you for". Although we know that six balls don't take that much of an effort to carry and nor is his gift 'pleasant'. He also uses the royal 'we' instead of 'I' implying that the insult is to the whole country and not just him and therefore the whole country is in rage. He uses this method in other speeches as well, this helps involve the others and its as if he is talking on the country's behalf. The calm and polite tone created by the alliteration of 'p' signifies the irony of the situation as it does not represent the true feelings of the king.

Throughout the play, Henry makes frequent references to God, like "by God's Grace", which makes him seem Holy. People during the Elizabethan times, being devout Roman Catholics, were more religious and spiritual. Therefore Henry in his speeches refers God to gain support and trust of his people, like in Act four Scene three when he is persuading his army to fight before the battle of Agincourt. It makes him sound so confident of himself, that God is on his side and hence he is not wrong and is only doing which was meant to happen. This is also what King Charles did when persuading the people that he has been rightly chosen as their King. He then, later on in this speech says that he "… will dazzle all the eyes of France, Yea strike the Dauphin blind to look us," signifying that his side will be so bright and full of radiance, because God is...

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