The Representation Of Masculinity And Violence In Henry V And The Rover

2070 words - 8 pages

The Representation of Masculinity and Violence in Henry V and The Rover

Representing violence as an essential tool to gaining control, Henry V
is dominated by masculine power, in this case, with the control of
France.

The cast is mainly male, containing just four female characters,
namely Mistress Quickly, Isabel Queen of France, Katherine her
daughter and Alice, the attendant.

The chorus sets the scene of war in the prologue, with ‘Then should
the warlike Harry’ and ‘That did affright the air at Agincourt’. This
image is further represented when the Archbishop of Canterbury is
conferring with the Bishop of Ely about the King, ‘List his last
discourse of war, and you shall hear / A fearful battle rendered you
in music. (I.1. 43/44), and further on ‘His hours filled up with
riots’, (I.1. 56).

Henry lays responsibilities on others for his actions, justifying
these actions by appealing to the church for answers, a Christian
King, putting all his trust in God. In his speech to the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Henry threatens the violence of war, as he appeals to him
with ‘For God doth know how many now in health / Shall drop their
blood in approbation / Of what your reverence shall incite us to. /
Therefore take heed how you impawn our person, / How you awake our
sleeping sword of war.’ (I.2.18-22), placing responsibility on
Canterbury for the violence that will ensue from him usurping the
French Sovereignty. Canterbury confirms Henry’s entitlement to France
with his ancestors having held it, also stating that the Salic law is
not upheld in France, this being that ‘No woman shall succeed in Salic
land’ (I.2. 39). He states ‘Then doth it well appear the Salic law /
Was not devised for the realm of France;’ (I.2. 54/55), and ‘So do the
Kings of France unto this day, / Howbeit they would hold up this Salic
law / To bar your highness claiming from the female, / And rather
chooses to hide them in a net / Than amply to imbare their crooked
titles / Usurped from you and your progenitors.’ (I.2. 90-95).

The Dauphin boasts of the French’s superiority over England,
feminising the English with ‘And let us do it with no show of fear - /
No, with no more than if we heard that England / Were busied with a
Whitsun morris-dance;/ For, my good liege, she is so idly kinged, /
Her sceptre so fantastically borne/ By a vain, giddy, shallow,
humorous youth, / That fear attends her not.’ (II.4.21-28).

Henry uses the power of his masculinity to procure the throne of
France, which incurs the violence necessary for his actions. This
violence is more implicit, as it is ‘acted’ off stage, giving us the
idea that the battle is occurring; with no fighting seen.

Henry is at times; portrayed as a humane ruler, as Canterbury remarks
‘The King is full of grace and fair regard’ (I.1.22). Further
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