Do you have an analysis of act IV scene 1 in Shakespeare's Henry V?


Henry V

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jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

You can find summaries and anaylses of all the acts and scenes on Henry V at eNotes. Just follow the link below! But here is the answer to your question here:

Summary: Act I Scene 1 opens with a conversation between the Archbishop of Canterbury and his assistant, the Bishop of Ely. Canterbury is worrying about a bill currently under consideration by Parliament. The bill, brought up by the House of Commons, would have the state strip the Church of its vast property holdings—“the better half of our possession.” Only an appeal to the king, who shares power with Parliament, can prevent this tremendous loss.

Canterbury then gives a glowing description of Henry. Although wild and reckless in his youth, Henry has rapidly matured into a wise and able king since the death of his father. Ely agrees.

Canterbury then says that he has begun urging Henry to wage a war of conquest on France, arguing that the French Crown is rightfully his because Henry’s great-grandfather had married a French queen. Revealing his true motive, he adds that so rich a prize would make Parliament forget all about seizing the Church’s land. The two churchmen exit to join Henry and his chief advisors, who are about to receive an ambassador from France.

Analysis: What we learn about Henry’s character from the two churchmen is overwhelmingly positive. In fact, lines 23 to 70 are one long string of compliments, beginning “The King is full of grace and sweet regard” and ending “. . . we must needs admit the means/How things [i.e., Henry] are perfected.” He seems to be a perfect king—and indeed, this is one of the dominant themes in the play.

malibrarian's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

If I'm reading it correctly, it appears that the question was for Act IV, scene 1, not Act I, Scene 1.

Act IV, scene 1 takes place the night before the Battle of Agincourt.  Henry is making his way throughout the English camp, speaking with his nobles, but also getting an idea for how his common soldiers are feeling about the coming battle and about Henry himself.  He nearly gets into a fight with Michael Williams, who has little or no faith in Henry's willingness to see the battle through to completion without having himself ransomed to save his own skin.  Henry reminds Williams (under darkness of night, Williams doesn't know he's being addressed by the king) that he can have faith in Henry - that there is no way he will desert his men.

After this, Henry prays to God, asking again for forgiveness for the sins of his father in acquiring the throne from Richard II in the first place - reminding God of the many masses he has said for Richard's soul daily - and begging God not to punish his men with defeat and death because of Henry IV's rashness.

Again, check out the link provided in the previous answer for more help with this great play!  Good luck!

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