Shakespear's 'henry V' "An Exploration Of How Shakespere Presents Henry As A King And As A Man."

1158 words - 5 pages

In this play, Shakespeare wants to show us the different aspects of Henry's character. The main question is if Henry was better at being a king, dealing with issues from a political perspective and relating it to theapproach to leadership, or at being merely a man, concentrating on friends and family.A solution to the questions of kingship raised in thisplay is given by the fact that when Shakespeare was alive, during the Elizabethan times, there was a very particular idea of what it meant to be a king. In simple terms, the man who could cope with all the demands laid upon him by public office.For Shakespeare and his audience, it would be Henry IV that portrayed all the necessary qualities to be a king and seemed to avoid all the weaknesses of temperament. He was not, however, the ideal king, as his power was crippled by the fact that he had usurped the throne and lived under threat from the nobles who had originally helped him. This ate away at his confidence and made him into quite a cunning person. Henry V, though, started out as a young man who no one respected, because he did not accept any responsibilities. He then, however, ended up becoming a better king than his father.It was made clear, at the beginning of the play, the kind of regard shown to him when he was given a 'gift'. This was a chest of tennis balls sent to Henry by the French prince and delivered by the Dauphin. (It was a fashionable game for young men in those days but not a game suitable for a worthy king.) Henry's speech in reply to this insult was witty, full of double entendre, sarcasm, and harsh words mocking the French."And tell that pleasant Prince this mock of his Hath turned his balls to gunstones..."It is ingenious the way he turned the joke into a faux pas, changing the tennis balls to cannon balls and saying the Prince's soul will bear a heavy responsibility for the destructive vengeance they will cause. Soon after this incident the people's opinion of him begins to change, because he starts to sound like a true and worthy leader. Henry realised that if he wanted people to admire him, he would have to gain their respect. This would mean forging relationships with everyone who he thought could helphim - unlike his father."I do not desire he should answer for me, and yet I determine to fight lustily for him."This quote, from Bates, indicates that Henry successfully gained respect but this was not just from Bates himself, but from the population ingeneral. He was more popular, perhaps, than any king before or after him. Church and state, commoners and noblemen, soldiers and civilians; it did not matter to him, he treated them all well and they responded to this. In a way he showed a little of the cunning displayed by his father when he realised he could use his popularity to his advantage.He did exactly that and made people want to fight proudly for their country. Just before leading his men into battle, he gives a speech (one of many) to Westmoreland, encouraging and...

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