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William Shakespeare: “King Henry V”

Though William Shakespeare's "King Henry V" is not one of his finest plays, he portrays an ideal portrayal of politicians seeking divine direction from religious leaders in their attempt to rule through the protagonist King Henry V. This is to guide them in their leadership and law. Several scenes in the play are designed to show King Henry V's Christian character, such as mercy, care for the weak, and his sense of justice, which is seen in the way he deals with inmates (Stephen). Furthermore, the religious aspect of King Henry V is portrayed in the play. This is seen many times as he asks the archbishop's counsel. Furthermore, it is also evident in some instances when he becomes the first to thank God for victories in battle he was facing. In addition to that, his religiousness is manifested in the play when he addresses the archbishop “in the name of God” to “religious unfold.” The play is seen to provide leadership qualities to the future leaders through the character of King Henry v.

Moreover, throughout the play, we encounter King Henry as someone who poses different feeling and his actions which might be considered immoral in the face of the society, but he believes in doing them for the “health of England” (William, The Life Of King Henry V). King Henry had a strong belief in what he focused his mind on. William Shakespeare uses the character of King Henry as a mirror to reflect the extremes that leaders are prepared to go for the sake of their country and to maintain power. Even in the current era, world leaders are willing to lose some of their character and go an extra mile for the love and betterment of their respective nations. Furthermore, the play portrays how leaders should put down their personal feeling and make difficult decisions for the good of everyone. This should be both in tough times for the nation and tough personal times.

Furthermore, according to the play, Henry’s youth is portrayed as humble. This is despite the fact that he was born and raised by a royal family, William Shakespeare describes him as being associated with low-class people which King Henry V actually enjoyed. This aspect helps to mold him to his future triumphs as a famous leader. In addition to that, His childhood experiences help build his morals and instill his Christian values (Stephen). Also, Henry V youth helps him develop a good relationship with his soldiers because he is used to talking with everyone. William Shakespeare uses the character of Henry V to provide insight to people that leaders should maintain a pure relationship with the people they rule. Through this, Leaders build and live in a harmonious state. Therefore, drawing from this play, leaders should not raise their identity once they assume power and forget about their past friends. Leaders when rising to fame and popularity, should keep hold of their humble upbringing together with their longtime friends. This helps them remember their personal lives and have a touch of the common citizen. Moreover, the play emphasizes on the impact that King Henry V had to his soldiers, and despite the play not showing numerous occasion when King Henry was in the battle, his vivid contribution and effort are recognizable throughout. William Shakespeare illustrates Henry V as an inspiration to soldiers and people as he helps them rise to larger ranks and attain more significant achievements (William, The Life Of King Henry The Fifth).

William Shakespeare argues that the qualities that describe a good leader are not the same qualities that characterize a right person. Henry is a good person, he is a source of inspiration to his men, and he is focused and intelligent. Shakespeare defines Henry’s ability to communicate and work with his men to embrace and achieve his goals as a characteristic of a good leader. In his reign as king Henry defied the odds when he won the Agincourt battle which was against them (William, The Life Of King Henry V). He inspired his men to victory, and this made him earn the speck of a hero. In many instances Henry, as a leader was forced to act in immoral that seemed unforgivable to a common man’s view, but he did it for the good of the people of his kingdom.

To keep his throne more robust and stable, Henry did some unimaginable things. He had to betray some of his friends and even to put some to death to uphold the law of the kingdom. This is what is expected of good leader. Upholding peace and the rule of law should not be compromised by friends and family. This interferes the leaders from their state duty. A king in Shakespeare’s portrayal is someone who is responsible for the well-being of the people and the stability of the nation, and he must subordinate his feelings, likes, dislikes, and emotions wholly to his responsibility (Stephen). The nature of power is morally ambiguous. The actions of Henry are criticized in the play, but within the framework of judgment, it is justified that Henry is both a great leader and a good king.

In the play, William Shakespeare employs the theme of the diversity of English (William, The Life Of King Henry V). It starts with a chorus that indicates the audience that the actors who will appear on the stage are their fellow countrymen and for sure the characters who participated in the Henry V play included the different social classes and nationalities that came together under the rule of Henry.

Catherine, a French princess, was also involved in the play. Her involvement is not major since, she never took a very active role in the progress of the narrative. She was molded into a charming and graceful woman that an influential leader would want to marry her. It was her father’s dream as his desire was always to win a more superior friend. Catherine attended English lessons with Alice and Shakespeare used this in the play as a negotiating tool among the men and as the English got their way into France Catherine’s potential husband became seemingly more of English. Catherine decided to study English not because it was her desire but because it was her father's will to marry her to their enemies so that they could end the war and he will be able to preserve his power in France. This was an ancient way of bringing friendship through family ties.

Fluellen along with other three characters were the foreign actors in the play, and they both represented their nationalities (Stephen). Fluellen represents the Welsh actors that are also involved in the play and Shakespeare defines him as a determined and wordier person. Shakespeare moreover defines Fluellen as a likable and well-defined personality who works against the disadvantages of his fellow actors of the same character.

Fluellen appears to be more competent and well informed compared to the lots of commoners in England who he forces into battle though he looked more clownish in his early scenes. Henry is a hero and a protagonist in this play. One of his remarkable ability is to resolve, once he has set his mind to accomplish something he uses anything under his authority to ensure that the specific target is achieved. The other extraordinary quality of Henry is that he possesses the ability to speak and rouse his followers to intimidate his enemies and persuade everyone who hears it.

In conclusion, the play manifests numerous characters and demonstrates the aspects of a real leader. The author demonstrates various aspects expected in conflict resolution and living together in harmony. It is shown through the role of King Henry V and his life as a leader where he teaches in countless times his spiritual aspects (Stephen). Furthermore, the play serves to enlighten people to protect their country and work closely with leaders. The characters manifested by Henry have brought numerous effects to the society today and has led to the development of multiple rules by leaders. Furthermore, different judgment of people in leadership can be attributed to the characters of the play. Also, the play serves to educate religious leaders on their role in the country of enlightening leaders on their leadership qualities and how to handle a different situation when faced by them.

Works Cited

Stephen, Greenbalt. "The Life Of King Henry The Fifth." The Nothern Shakespeare Third (2015): 105.

William, Shakespeare. "The Life Of King Henry The Fifth." 1 (2013): 27-35.

—. "The life Of King Henry V." Complete Works Of William Shakespeare 1 (2014): 63-67.

October 07, 2021

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