Leadership in William Shakespeare's Henry V
At the time when "Henry V" was written in 1599, Englandwas in chaos,
facing many dilemmas. The country was coming to the end of the
Elizabethan era. Queen Elizabeth was in the final years of her reign
and she was getting old, which must be taken into consideration.
Therefore, the issue of succession was very topical. Who was to become
the next monarch of England? This issue arose because there was no
heir to the throne since the Queen had no children and had remained
unmarried. Powerful Catholic countries surrounded England, who had
broken away from the Pope in the reign of Henry VIII. They saw Englandas
a potential country to invade and reconvert to Catholicism. The
possibility of civil war was becoming a real threat, as many people
believed that they had a rightful claim to the throne. Therefore there
was much discontent throughout the country.
When Shakespeare's play was written, the English were vulnerable, weak
and living in fear. Shakespeare's intention was to increase the morale
of the citizens of England by reuniting the country, making the English
feel proud and of their noble heritage. By writing the play, he hoped
to raise their self-esteem and enthusiasm for the forthcoming events.
He wanted to remind the English about the good times in the past and
their heroic victory at the Battleof Agincourt. This made the play a
propaganda piece. The play has many references to English greatness
throughout, for example the victory of the Black Prince. By doing
this, he makes the English people see what a powerful and immense
country they actually were and that Englandwas a force to be reckoned
with.The propaganda idea was reinforced by The Chorus, which flatters
the audience's imaginative ability. The actor calls for inspiration to
help show the great events and heroic characters involved in the play
which is to be presented.
Henry's reputation before he came to the throne was far from perfect.
When he was younger, he had lived a libertine lifestyle and had a
dissolute past. His life had been extremely corrupt. Henry was known
as a playboy. He nearly drank himself to death as well as being a
heavy gambler. Many people were very worried that Henry was too young
and immature to take over the huge job of being King of England.
People were scared that Henry was going to ruin the country. They
wondered whether he was suitable for the highest royal office. Another
concern of the public was that he was estranged from his father. They
did not know how he was going to cope being King without his father
teaching him anything on how to be a good King. Henry's father had
died when he was a small child. Nevertheless he had enormous backing
when he came to the throne. He had advisers to help him with the day
to day running of the country so he...