The Metamorphosis of Henry V in the Shakespeare play

Throughout Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V plays, the character of Henry V progresses from a careless youth to a terrific King and revered hero. In 1 Henry IV the Prince confides to the audience that his reckless habits is a sham that he suggests to shake off when he becomes king, so that his miraculous transformation will provide the general public personality he reveals as King even more splendor and marvel. Henry’s development as he develops from Prince Hal to King Henry V of England is considerable, but not finish. Regardless of the seeming excellence of his deportment and courtly manners, traces of the dishonest Prince Hal still emerge in King Henry’s habits, especially when he remains in demanding or emotional circumstances. Henry V seems to be prone to using deceit when it is the simplest method to get an objective, accountable to play mean-spirited tricks when the fancy strikes him and prone to making rash choices when outraged. These faults suggest that while Henry has handled a more kingly personality, this self is not as various from Prince Hal as he had intended.

The first of Henry’s flaws to which readers are presented is the King’s tendency to make unwise choices when influenced by anger. In a conference with his consultants at the beginning of the play, Henry debates the validity of his claim to the throne of France. He asks Canterbury if England’s claim to France is strong enough to go to war over with the strict injunction to inform the fact, because “never ever 2 such kingdoms did contend without much fall of blood, whose guiltless drops are each a problem” (I.ii.24-6). King Henry informs Canterbury that war should only be waged for just and legitimate reasons, because it “makes such waste in quick death” (I.ii.28). The King provides the impression of a guy who values human life significantly and values the sacrifices that are inescapable in any war. He and his advisors are still in conversation when a messenger from the Dauphin gets here, bearing a present from France. King Henry is gracious until the gift is opened to expose a taunt: a cache of tennis balls. Incensed by the suggested insult, Henry flies into a speech detailing the different ways that he is going to make the Dauphin regret his disrespect. He swears that, “lots of a thousand widows will this mock out of their dear husbands; mock mothers from their boys, mock castles down” (I.ii.283-6). This tirade continues to assure violence of the very kind that Henry was warning Canterbury versus minutes prior to. The Dauphin’s insulting gift of tennis balls provokes Henry into such anger that he appears to forget the appointments he formerly held about war in the face of his desire to penalize the Dauphin. He instructs the messenger, “Tell the Dauphin I am coming on to venge me as I may” (I.ii.291-2). After Henry receives the tennis balls, the war on France stops to be primarily about succession and rather handles the cast of an individual vengeance crusade.

Henry’s propensity towards impracticality when mad is evident again later on in the war, near the conclusion of the fight of Agincourt. At one point, French soldiers slip through the guard around the English camp and murder the young boys sequestered away from the battling. The King rages, and right away orders the death of every French soldier captured. “We’ll cut the throats of those we have,” he declares, “and not a guy of them that we will take will taste our mercy” (IV.vii.63-5).

Henry likewise makes injudicious choices when he is not in the throes of anger. He has a propensity, for instance, for using deceit to accomplish his political objectives. The first appearance of this propensity towards underhandedness remains in Act II, scene ii, when Henry confronts three noblemen found to be plotting versus him: Richard, Earl of Cambridge; Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham; and Sir Thomas Grey of Northumberland. Instead of straight implicating the traitors, the King maneuvers them into condemning themselves by asking their opinion on how to punish a perpetrator captured of drunkenness the day before. After the three males recommend harsh punishments for the detainee, Henry hands each of them documents revealing his knowledge of their desired treachery. As the traitors read the papers that are, in impact, death warrants, Henry teases them, asking, “What see you in those papers that you lose a lot skin tone? … Why, what read you there that have so cowarded and chas ‘d your blood out of appearance?” (II.ii.73-76). The sarcastic tone of these remarks reveals Henry’s true satisfaction in the deceptiveness of the indirect conflict that he has planned. The scheme continues as Henry rebuffs the males’s pleas for mercy by referencing their condemnation of the drunkard discussed earlier in the scene. He informs them that “the grace that fasted in us however late, by your own counsel is reduce ‘d and eliminate ‘d” (II.ii.79-80). Since the King had concrete proof of the 3 guys’s meant treason, they were, without question, headed for execution. Henry feels personally betrayed, so he goes beyond merely condemning the traitors to death by providing the sentence in a manner that makes the 3 males feel as though they have sentenced themselves.

In Act III, scene iii, Henry exercises his skills in imaginative oratory to win the French town of Harfleur. After a time of strong combating, the town calls a parley to work out and King Henry delivers a fiery speech filled with violent threats. He compares his soldiers to wild monsters beyond his control and prophesies that if Harfleur does not surrender unconditionally the males of the town will have to witness “the blind and bloody soldier with foul hand defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters; your fathers taken by their silver beards, and their most reverend heads dash ‘d to the walls, your naked infants spitted upon pikes, whiles the mad moms with their shouts confus ‘d do break the clouds …” (III.iii.33-41). Henry’s words communicate complete seriousness with intent to follow through, however his later actions oppose the cruelty he preaches in the parley. When Bardolph– a soldier, and among Henry’s old tavern pals– steals from a church along the march, Henry orders him hung since “when [lenity] and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gangster is the soonest winner” (III.vii.112-3). These beliefs recommend that Henry wants to avoid unnecessarily alienating the French people, an extremely politic relocation for a King who intends to end up being ruler of France. The facts of the scenario in France, along with the later proof of Henry’s punishment of Bardolph, show that the threats Henry provided outside Harfleur were never more than bluffs. The speech, although unethical, shows to be an efficient technique to take the town without more bloodshed.

On one event, King Henry practices deceit for reasons that in no chance advantage England or the pursuit of justice, however simply for his own amusement. The evening before the battle of Agincourt, Henry dons a camouflage and wanders amongst his own troops as a confidential soldier, joining the men and assessing morale. At one point, Henry ends up being involved in a conversation with numerous men about the responsibility of the King in the fate of his soldiers’ souls. One soldier, a guy called Williams, disagrees so vehemently with Henry that the two males come close to blows. Henry proposes a short-lived compromise, “Offer me any gage of thine, and I will use it in my bonnet; then if ever thou dar’st acknowledge it, I will make great my quarrell” (IV.i.207-10). The two exchange gloves, and strategy to fix their argument later, if they both make it through. After the battle, King Henry experiences Williams and asks why the soldier is wearing a glove on his bonnet, without exposing that Henry himself was the strange soldier. The King motivates Williams to discover the guy who quarreled with him and “keep thy vow, sirrah, when thee fulfill’st the fellow” (IV.vii.144-5). After Williams leaves, Henry summons Fluellen, among the captains. Henry offers Fluellen his glove and asks the captain to use it as a favor. He then informs Fluellen, “when Alanson and myself were down together, I pluck ‘d this glove from his helm. If any man obstacle this, he is a good friend to Alanson, and an opponent to our person” (IV.vii=2E153-7). With this story planted to make sure that Fluellen will battle anyone who challenges the glove, Henry sends Fluellen over to where Williams is, and welcomes Exeter, Lord Warwick and Glouster to watch occasions unfold for their home entertainment.

The entire event is purposeless and unproductive– there is no factor behind it except Henry’s amusement at the prospect of maneuvering 2 strangers into battling each other for a nonexistent cause. Henry does not let the joke bring up until now as to permit either man to sustain injury, however does result in a reasonable quantity of embarrassment. After fixing the confusion, the King provides payment for the two guys he inconvenienced as if paying actors in a theater. Henry’s actions show a disrespect for guys of lower rank; he controls Fluellen and Williams like puppets for his and the other nobles’ amusement.

Although Prince Hal has made a trustworthy effort to reform himself into a king, his transformation is incomplete. The struggles and emotional tribulations of ruling a country pressure the new image that King Henry attempts to present, and enable traits of the old Prince Hal to slip through. The war in France starts partly because Henry wants to have vengeance on the Dauphin, and ends on a needlessly gory note sounded by the King’s order to slit the throat of every French prisoner. When Henry finds three of his nobles are outlining versus him, he challenges them through an elaborate and, for them, stressful plan which ends with the traitors passing sentence on themselves. In France, when challenged at the siege of Harfleur, Henry horrifies the town into surrender through the delivery of lots of extreme and unproven risks. On the eve of battle, when his time would be much better served strategizing, Henry rather picks a fight with among his soldiers that later on develops into an extended prank at the cost of 2 complete strangers. These actions are more reminiscent of Henry’s former life as a pub rough than of his new life as King of England.

You Might Also Like