Help! Pretty please. I am not the happiest with this essay. My teacher is the toughest grader I have ever had so I know he'll rip this apart. I'd much rather go through the shredding here. C'mon, bring it on. I can take it, *wink*
The transitions don't seem to be working, I am afraid I use too many passive verbs, and I don't want the vocabulary to look like it was plucked out of a thesaurus.
The structure is a little odd because of the format we were given:
For much of the play, Henry seems to be __________________________ because of these three moments in the play:
______________________ ______________________ ______________ ________.
However, the moment in the play that challenges this view of Henry is_____________________________ because in this scene ____________________________________________________________ _________________
Based on this scene and the other three mentioned above, the complex theme Shakespeare seems to develop is
Shakespeare opens Henry V
in the first act with the Bishops of Ely and Canterbury extolling Henry's virtues. The Bishop of Ely calls Henry "a true lover of the holy church" (1.1.25) while the Bishop of Canterbury admits that "The courses of his youth promised it not" (1.1.27). Henry, known as Prince Hal in Shakespeare's Henry IV
plays, has a proclivity for the profligate; but in the opening lines of Henry V
, "a heady currance scour his faults" (Bishop of Canterbury 1.1.36), and Henry is held up as a mature, scholarly king and the stalwart sovereign of his domain. The echoes of the immature and arrogant prince exhibit themselves throughout much of the play as Henry fails to take responsibility for his actions, toys with the people around him, and bumbles his way through battles. Henry V sheds his youthful indulgences and is at his most heroic in his oration just before the battle at Agincourt. As he rallies his men behind the patriotic cause, he importunes his soldiers to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and fight to a glorious victory against the much larger French forces.
There are several incidents in the play where Henry puts the responsibility for his actions onto others. Henry seeks to invade France and claim the crown for his own, but he is reluctant to answer for the English lives the war will cost. Henry lays the burden of the decision on the Bishop of Canterbury, telling him, "take heed how you impawn our person,/ How you awake our sleeping sword of war" (1.2.24-25) and disavows guilt. Even as Henry threatens the town of Harfleur with the rape of its women, the elders' "heads dashed to the walls," and "naked infants spitted upon pikes," (3.3.37-38), he eschews blame for the carnage he threatens by telling the men of Harfleur, "What is 't to me, when you yourselves are cause" (3.3.19).
Henry exhibits immaturity when he toys with people in lopsided games, assured of victory by his station in life. In 4.1, Henry borrows Erpingham's cloak so he may wander among his men incognito. Henry engages a soldier named Williams in conversation. Williams offends Henry when he says that the King may claim that he will not be ransomed and "he [says] so to make us fight cheerfully, but when our throats are cut, he may be ransomed and we ne'er the wiser" (4.1.199-201). Henry and Williams exchange gloves in a promise to fight and Williams is unaware that he has just quarreled with the King. Henry amuses himself further when he sets up Fluellen to take Williams' blow by having Fluellen wear the glove in his cap and telling Fluellen that "If any man challenge this, he is a friend of Alençon and an enemy to our person. If thou encounter any such, apprehend him, an thou dost me love" (4.7.163-166).
Henry appears to be a youthful King out of his league blundering his way through France. It is providence not proficiency that helps Henry to win battles. After the battle of Agincourt, Henry admits to Montjoy, "I know not if the day be ours or no" (4.7.88). With the English suffering only twenty nine deaths while the French lose ten thousand men, Henry's ignorance is astonishing. Henry then has to ask Montjoy where they are.
In spite of these foibles and follies, Henry is the heroic King and leader of men. Henry is at his best while giving his Saint Crispin's Day speech to his troops. The English are greatly outnumbered at Agincourt; Henry's soldiers are gloomy with the prospect of defeat. Henry bolsters their morale with a rousing oration that garners the soldiers' loyalty to the King. Decrying the greater number of French combatants, Henry tells his men "The fewer men, the greater share of honor" (4.3.25) they will enjoy for their victory. Henry promises them lasting glory for their victory, saying, "This story shall the good man teach his son,/ And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,/ From this day to the ending of the world,/ But we in it shall be remembered" (4.3.58-61). In saying that "he who sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother" (4.3.63), Henry is elevating even the basest soldier to the exalted position of royal sibling. Henry refuses Montjoy's offer to negotiate a ransom and surrender and stands amidst his soldiers as they battle the French.
It is in this inspirational speech on Saint Crispin's Day that Henry V takes his biggest step on the journey from puerile prince to stalwart king. Henry shows great leadership and charisma in his call-to-arms. Henry's fellowship with his men enables the outnumbered English to strike a decisive blow to the French defenders. When all hope appears to be lost, Henry rises to the occasion. Henry sets himself apart from his men, he comes across as immature and inexperienced, but when Henry stands with his men as "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" (4.3.62), Henry lives up to the elevated proclamations of valor and grandeur Shakespeare promises in the opening lines of the play.THANK YOU!