Henry V has surely come a great long way from his crazy youths until the day when the play begins and he becomes a legitimate King of England, after his father’s King Henry’s IV, death. Henry V had to change his previous, irresponsible behaviour sends grow up and become a worthy successor to the throne.
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This change in his attitude does not stay unnoticeable. Just at the beginning of the play, the two of the most, religious churchmen, The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely, name Henry’s change as a “ blessing” and a “ miracle”. Henry’s new position keeps him engaged in crucial country issues and makes him forget about his earlier life.
Everyone seems to notice this miraculous transformation, and only the Dauphin of France, by sending his disrespectful present, shows that he still thinks of Henry as of a childish teenager. In some ways, King Henry V might seem to be a damaged character. First, he made an order to murder his prisoners. Then he was disloyal to his friends, Bardolph and Nim, when he sent them to death by hanging. He decided to play a joke on one of his soldiers – William, and enjoy seeing the misunderstanding. Finally, he decided to invade France knowing that many of people are going to die and be murdered; not only French soldiers but also his own fighters. Besides all that, Henry V seems to blame constantly everyone around, except himself, for his actions. Although he is convinced that he has right to demand the French throne, he makes sure to put the potential blame on someone else before making the decision about invading France.
In this case, he puts the responsibility on Archbishop of Canterbury saying that if he misled the King then the blood of innocents will be on Archbishop’s hands. Moreover, he claims that he was provoked to invade France by receiving the container of tennis balls, which was a hugely insulting gift from the French side, but the truth is that the decision had been made even before the present arrived. Once again the King does not take the responsibility of his previous decisions. In addition, when King Henry arrives at the gates of Harfleur, one of the French towns, he intimidates the governor by telling that in the man’s hands lay the lives of men, women and children of the city. The King claims that if Harfleur will not give up then he loses the power over his soldiers and they will start to rape the women, kill all the men and children and they are going to destroy the town. Henry, again, put the blame on someone else. He seems to forget that only himself is in charge of the soldiers as well as he was the one to encourage them to become savage. That leads to his exceptional quality of speaking which Henry possess.
During the play, the King gives few of fantastic speeches which, in an almost magical way, improve the morale of his soldiers, make them believe that impossible is going to happen and as an effect helps his troop to win the battle over France. One of his greatest speech, probably the most famous one, takes place just before the legendary Battle of Agincourt and is called St. Crispin’s Day speech.
The soldiers of Henry V are convinced that they have no chance against the French army which is five times bigger than the English one. Many of them wish they had some help from the men who stayed in England. But King Henry does not wish to give up, he believes that God is on their side and he convinces his soldiers that is enough of them to make history. He further promises that every single of them is about to gain a tremendous share of honour. The King allows leaving to those who do not want to fight and even offers them money to go back home, but on the other hand, he encourages them to stay by his side and promises that if they fight they will be able to call the King theirs brother. His words have such a colossal power that soldiers, feeling motivated and convinced of their own power and the rightness of the fight, actually win the battle. Another great example of Henry’s exquisite skills of language is his speech just before the greatest battle in the play.
When Henry sees his sleeping soldiers and compares his own life as a king with their lives as commoners. The speech, together with the King’s undercover conversation with soldiers underlines similarities, as well as the distance between them. On the one hand, Henry understands that the contrast between him and commoners lies in the differences of their position. He claims that besides his power and wealthiness he feels, smells and sees things just as the common man: On the other hand, he describes the great responsibility which he, as a King, must bear and which no one else could probably understand: King Henry is undoubtedly a marvellous figure. Although sometimes complicated, and may also seem to be a little selfish and hungry for power, Henry is clearly dedicated and committed to his country.
As a perfect leader, he knows perfectly how to motivate his soldiers, realizes what his goal and purposes are and makes the army fights for it. He is a noble man with religious nature and a great sense of justice. As a King, he needs to deal with plenty of judgments and decisions which sometimes might be surprising for others, but they are never easy to make. As everyone, he has got his flaws, but his engagement, excellent leadership and language skills make him one of the most amazing Kings in the history.