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In Henry V, How Does Shakespeare Create Different Impressions Of Henry?

4713 words - 19 pages

Shakespeare has written three different ‘types of genre’ in his plays. One of these is his Tragedies like ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Another genre he writes within is Comedy, an example of which is ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.
The last genre Shakespeare uses is History; an example of this is ‘Henry V’ where he bases this play on actual historic events. The play is set around the year 1420 and King Henry is faced with the difficult decision, whether to attack France or not. There are a lot of incidents in this play where Shakespeare exaggerates the qualities/attributes of King Henry; he changes the way we think of King Henry. The attributes of King Henry are exaggerated to such an extent we believe that he must have been ‘the perfect king’, cunning, merciful, charming and an excellent speaker.
In act 2 Scene 2 Shakespeare shows Henry as cunning, when he cleverly manages to catch Scroop, Cambridge and Gray trying to plot treason against him.
‘If little faults, proceeding on distemper, shall not be wink’d at, how shall we stretch our eye when capital crimes, chew’d, swallow’d and digest’d appear before us?’
This is a very clever line the king uses, because the ‘capital crimes’ include treason which is what Scroop, Cambridge and Gray are committing. He uses this in such a clever way that Scroop, Cambridge and Gray, did not even know that the King was referring to them, and they gave the King the answers which lead them to their own prosecution.
In Act 3 Scene 4 Shakespeare shows Henry as merciful where, after he manages to persuade the Governor of Harfleur to surrender, he tells Exeter to show mercy on the people.
‘There remain and fortify it strongly ‘gainst the French. Use mercy to them all’
This is one of the facts that were distorted by Shakespeare, in reality it was quite the opposite. According to the facts, King Henry forced all the people out of their homes and cruelly ransacked the town.
In Act 5 Scene 2 Shakespeare shows Henry as charming when he manages to win over Katherine; the princess of France. ‘Upon that I kiss your hand, and I call you my queen.’ ...

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