Shakespeare's King Henry - Development of a Leader

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Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the great, Julius Caesar and even Hitler. What do all these figures from History have in common? These were all great leaders in their times, maybe not all were equitable but they all for sure have good leadership qualities. What determines a leader though? What qualities are needed to make a great leader? Many forms of good leadership exist. Some people say a great leader is one who knows how to conquer and conduct properly, while other people think a good leader is one who achieves a lot and shows it off. In “Henry V” by William Shakespeare, Shakespeare presents the idea that a great leader is not born, but developed slowly from one type of a character to an ideal character of a leader – just like King Henry in “Henry V”. In “Henry V” Henry is a character who is emerging from a shameful reputation into a political strategist, from there he develops into a courageous soldier and then finally into a great and memorable King. The first stage Henry goes through in the play that indicates his ultimate transformation is his sudden level of maturity. This is evident when at the beginning of the play the two Bishops – Bishop of Canterbury and Bishop Ely are discussing his former days as a careless Prince. “The courses of his youth promised it not…..But that wilderness….seemed to die too” (I.i.25-27). This shows that everyone remembers that Henry who is King now use to be a womanizing, and juvenile Prince. To put an end to his past reputation Henry develops a sudden maturity and strategic mind to gain political control as a King. This is evident in the way he handles the three traitors. “We do deliver you. Get you therefore hence, Poor miserable wretches, to your death” (II.ii. 176-177) Henry sentences and punishes the traitors in such a manner that even they do not blame Henry for their mistakes, they believe they deserve them. After Henry gains political strategy and a reputation as a “shrewd” politician, he gains the love of...
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