List of Characters
Chorus—A player who introduces the drama, but takes no part in it.
Henry V—King of England; newly crowned.
Duke of Exeter—Uncle of Henry V; also a soldier and a statesman.
Duke of Bedford—Henry’s brother.
Duke of Gloucester—Henry’s younger brother.
Duke of York—Henry’s cousin.
Archbishop of Canterbury—Head of the Catholic church in England; chief religious leader.
Bishop of Ely—Assistant to the Archbishop.
Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop, Sir Thomas Grey—English nobles but traitors to the crown.
Earl of Westmoreland, Earl of Salisbury, Earl of Warwick—English nobles.
Captain Fluellen—A patriotic Welsh officer in Henry’s army while in France.
Captain Gower—Another Welsh officer; friend of Fluellen.
Captain Jamy—A Scottish officer in Henry’s army while in France.
Captain Macmorris—An Irish officer in Henry’s army while in France.
Bardolph, Pistol, Nym—Thieves and cowards; all were friends of Henry during his wild youth.
Boy—Young man who at first associates with Bardolph, Pistol, and Nym.
Hostess Quickly—Peasant woman; wife of Pistol.
Michael Williams, John Bates, Alexander Court—Soldiers in Henry’s army.
Charles VI—King of France.
The Dauphin—Son of Charles VI; heir to the throne.
(The entire section is 275 words.)
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Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Henry V, the king of England from 1413 to 1422, the wild “Prince Hal” of the “Henry IV” plays. Since his accession to the throne, he has grown into a capable monarch whose sagacity astonishes his advisers. The question of state that most concerns him is that of his right, through his grandfather, Edward III, to certain French duchies and ultimately to the French crown. His claim to the duchies is haughtily answered by the Dauphin of France, who sends Henry a barrel of tennis balls, a jibe at the English king’s misspent youth. Having crushed at home a plot against his life fomented by his cousin, the earl of Cambridge, abetted by Lord Scroop and Sir Thomas Gray, and having been assured by the archbishop of Canterbury that his claim to the French crown is valid, Henry invades France. After the capture of Harfleur, at which victory he shows mercy to the inhabitants of the town, the king meets the French at Agincourt in Picardy. The French take the impending battle very lightly, because they outnumber the English. Henry spends the night wandering in disguise around his camp, talking to the soldiers to test their feelings and to muse on the responsibilities of kingship. In the battle on the following day, the English win a great victory. The peace is concluded by the betrothal of Henry to Princess Katharine, daughter of the French king, and the recognition of his claim to the French throne. To the playwright, as to most of his...
(The entire section is 658 words.)
Canterbury (Character Analysis)
The archbishop of Canterbury's first appearance occurs in I.i, immediately after the Prologue. He enters the scene in worried conversation with the bishop of Ely about a bill presented to the king that would confiscate property and income held by the Church and deliver it over to the monarchy. Canterbury's solution to this attack upon the Church's holdings is to offer the king instead a substantial sum of money to help him claim the crown of France and "certain dukedoms" as his own (I.i.87).
Also during the course of this scene, Canterbury and Ely discuss the king's transformation from "wildness" to "consideration" (I.i.26,28) upon his succession to the throne after the death of his father, King Henry IV. (Henry V's early exploits as the dissolute Prince Hal are the subject of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One and Two.)
Shortly afterward, in I.ii, Canterbury defines for the king the "law Salique [Salic]" which prohibits women from inheriting property or titles and from passing property or titles on to their heirs. Henry V bases his claim to France on the fact that his great-grandfather, King Edward III of England, was the son of Isabella, who was the daughter of King Philip IV of France. The French have invoked Salic law to stop Henry's claim, but Canterbury argues that the law applied only to women in ancient German territory and "was not devised for the realm of France"; therefore, the archbishop concludes, Salic law does not...
(The entire section is 685 words.)
Chorus (Character Analysis)
In Elizabethan drama, the Chorus is usually a single actor who recites the play's prologue and epilogue, apologizing for any defects the play might have and begging the audience's forbearance; sometimes the Chorus also fills in details that cannot be presented onstage and comments on the action of the play. In Henry V, the Chorus presents not only the Prologue and Epilogue but introduces Acts II, III, IV, and V as well, so that the Chorus appears six times in the play. During these six appearances, the Chorus sets the epic tone of this play about one of England's most popular monarchs. (An epic presents a character of legendary stature involved in a series of heroic adventures across nations and continents and often occurring over long stretches of time. The Iliad and The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer are epics.)
In the Prologue, the Chorus works immediately to conjure up the epic grandeur that ''the warlike Harry" and his military accomplishments require (Pro.5). First, in typical epic fashion, he calls upon inspiration, or "a Muse of fire," to provide a suitably vast setting for his lofty subject (Pro.1). Next, he apologizes to the audience for the "unworthy scaffold," or stage, which will in fact form the setting of the play (Pro.10). Finally, he relies upon us, the audience, to use our own imaginations to picture what his few actors and inadequate props can only hint at and to fill in gaps of time that cannot be covered during...
(The entire section is 609 words.)
King Henry V (Character Analysis)
Formerly the "madcap" Prince Hal (see Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One and Two), Henry V is king of England and the title character of the play which deals with Henry's efforts to reclaim France as part of his kingdom—a topic well-known to Elizabethan audiences.
Throughout the play, the Chorus and many of Henry's subjects treat him as an epic hero. (An epic presents a character of legendary stature involved in a series of heroic adventures across nations and continents and often occurring over long stretches of time. The Iliad and The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer are epics.) The Chorus compares him to Mars, the Roman god of war (Pro.6), while Fluellen likens him to Alexander the Great, as does the archbishop of Canterbury when he describes the king as able to "unloose" the "Gordian knot" of statecraft, much as Alexander sliced through the original Gordian knot with his sword (IV.vii.1-53; I.i.45-47). Exeter warns Charles VI that Henry is descending on France "In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove'' (II.iv.100).
Henry V is also noted for his Christian piety. The bishop of Ely calls him "a true lover of the holy Church," and Canterbury praises the king for his knowledge of religion (I.i.23,38-40). The Chorus refers to him as "the mirror of all Christian kings" (Ch.II.6). Henry himself repeatedly invokes God. Referring to the upcoming battle of Agincourt, he tells his brother Gloucester that their fate is in...
(The entire section is 915 words.)
Other Characters (Descriptions)
She is a lady who attends Katherine, the daughter of Queen Isabel and King Charles VI of France. She first appears in III.iv, where she tutors the princess in English. Her next and last appearance occurs during the wooing scene in V.ii, where she acts as chaperone to Katherine and also functions as translator between the princess and Henry V. Alice's help in either scene is minimal, since her knowledge of English is only slightly better than Katherine's. Thus III.iv and V.ii.98-280 provide gentle comic relief from the war and statesmanship which occupy most of the play. (Comic relief is a humorous or light-hearted scene or episode which temporarily alleviates the tension of the action occurring before it and which is sometimes meant to highlight the solemnity of the action following it.)
Ambassadors (to the King of England)
These ambassadors are sent by Lewis, the Dolphin of France, to deliver tennis balls to King Henry V in I.ii.234-97. This insulting gift alludes to Henry's dissolute younger days as Prince Hal (for more on Prince Hal's escapades, see Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One and Two), and is meant to warn the king to stay at home and play rather than to try to invade France. Henry V's calm but threatening response to this insult is in keeping with his new role as king: "When we have match'd our rackets to these balls, / We will in France, by God's grace, play a set / Shall strike his [the Dolphin's]...
(The entire section is 5401 words.)