The concept of order in HENRY V
The concept of order in William Shakespeare’s “Henry V” is central to the play as a whole and this is demonstrated through the events, principal characters and themes of the play. Though Henry V is one of the Bard’s history plays, it is more especially a play that brings insight into the question of what part order and disorder play in a society. The first time we are introduced to the centrality of order in the play is in Act I, scene 2 when Exeter compares the need for order in society to the need for order in music. “For government, though high, though low, and lower…doth keep in one consent…like music.” The analogy is effective in that it communicates the message to Shakespeare’s audience that the enjoyment of music, like the enjoyment of society, depends on its order. Harmony in society, Exeter is asserting, is comparable to order in music
The next very effective display of the importance of order as being essential to the play is when the Archbishop of Canterbury delivers his parable on the bee hive. He makes the very pointed claim that honeybees “by a rule in nature teach/the act or order to a peopled kingdom.” This speech can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but the central idea is clear: the structure of the honeybee society with its dependency on the hierarchical nature of the monarch and the workers, is akin to the Elizabethan society that cannot survive or thrive without its allegiance to its monarch and the structures within the monarchy. Canterbury’s speech develops the idea further when he makes the parallel to the rightful use of war when the society needs to be reinforced to order. He notes that the soldier bees go about their business of protecting the realm while the monarch passively watches, merely “busied in his monarchy”. It is here where the character of Henry V himself embodies order
Henry does not content himself with idly allowing his soldier bees to accomplish their task, but he engages in the...
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