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King Heenry

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  • September 15, 2013
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Amongst many modern critics the play Henry V has created a considerable amount of controversy because many regard it as a production that glorifies war. However, this is a drama set in medieval times and in order to establish credibility a king very often needed to provide his nation with victory in the battlefield. This essay will argue that King Henry unifies a troubled nation with victory on the frontlines of France. And so converts England into a band of brothers. There can be little doubt that the consequence of war is destruction and death. At Harfleur King Henry’s threat to the governor of the city is nothing less than brutal. His imagery in the frightening words that his troops will mow “like grass your fresh, fair virgins and your flowering infants” is horrific. Furthermore, his promise that the governor will witness the suffering of his “shrill-shrieking daughters” is terrifying. King Henry’s execution of traitors Scroop, Cambridge and Grey is regarded by many to be ruthless. “Of the greatest concern for many” is King Henry’s cold blooded command that not a single prisoner of war “shall taste our mercy” on the battlefields of Agincourt. On the other hand, it should be considered that when Henry comes to power he is greeted by a cynical England. Many remember his wild days and his love of frequenting places of ill repute in London. More concerning for traditionalists is that Henry’s father did not come to the throne by Divine Right, but rather by the power of his sword. On the Scottish borders there is unrest and Henry understands shrewdly that he needs a victory to assure his credibility. King Henry is an astute politician whose rhetorical genius win over the ecclesiastics in his court. Indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury marvels that “when he speaks the air is still”. His knowledge of warfare impresses and he exploits the manipulative intentions of the archbishop and prepares for war in France. The “star of England” wins Harfleur without any...