Authority Essay

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Question:
HOW HAS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF AUTHORITY BEEN ENHANCED BY YOUR STUDY OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAY HENRY V AND AT LEAST ONE PIECE OF RELATED MATERIAL?

Essay:
The close study of Henry V and Weapons Training by Bruce Dawes has enhanced the concept of authority by portraying the idea through varying levels and perspectives. The level of authority one possesses is determined by their position in their hierarchical society. Additionally, one’s authority can ignite a sense of patriotism and unity among those under the influence of it. Also, a good leader may not necessarily equate to a good person.

The level of authority one assumes is shaped by both their position in the hierarchical society or their association with religion. The hierarchical system in England during the 1400s was very strong and tight and the highest level of authority after the royal monarchy was the Church. As demonstrated in Henry V, the opening scenes show the Church playing a significant role in the decision-making process for the country. Even before the audience is introduced to Henry V, the Church builds an image of Henry, describing him as “full of grace, and fair regard” which demonstrates their authority over him. Similarly, Henry consistently refers to “God” in his dialogue and speeches, which reflects and emphasises his connection with the Church and his recognition of their authority. In Dawes ‘Weapons Training’ this system of hierarchy also applies in the context of war. The persona is a sergeant major and because his position is ranked higher than the soldiers, he has the power of authority over them. This is reflected through his mocking tone where he satirises the soldier’s ability, and the black humour he employs to make them aware of the dangers of war. He describes the men as “if you had one more brain/it’d be lonely what are you laughing at” as an innuendo to deliberately emphasise his authority over them. He confronts them with rhetorical questions like in “why are...
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