What is the conflict that drives the action and provides tension in Henry V?

The conflict that drives the action and provides tension in Henry V is, on the surface, the war between the English and French. Both want to govern France, but both kings claim that they have the right to do so based on their ancestry. The only way to decide the claim is to fight, so Henry takes his men and goes to France to do so. This conflict frames the story. On a deeper level, however, the conflict concerns whether it is possible to have a just war.

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The main conflict in Henry V is, on the surface, the war between the English and French. Both want to govern France, and both kings claim that they have the right to do so so based on their ancestry. The only way to decide the claim is to fight, so...

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The main conflict in Henry V is, on the surface, the war between the English and French. Both want to govern France, and both kings claim that they have the right to do so so based on their ancestry. The only way to decide the claim is to fight, so Henry takes his men and goes to France to do so. This conflict frames the story.

On a deeper level, however, the conflict concerns whether it is possible to have a just war. Henry's conduct of the war is deeply questionable. He threatens Harfleur with rape and the murder of children if they do not surrender. He instructs his men to kill their prisoners for no apparent reason. The Chorus seems convinced that he is "the mirror of all Christian kings," but if you ask the soldier Michael Williams, you get a very different perspective. In the end, the burden of deciding what to believe about war is on the audience.

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In William Shakespeare's Henry V, the main conflict driving the characters is an invasion during the Hundred Years' War, a series of battles in which England attempted to conquer French land. At the beginning of the play, King Henry V decides to launch another invasion of France on the advice of the English nobility. The odds are against Henry's troops; the English army is so much smaller and relatively lacking in technology that the French royals don't even consider the invasion a threat at first. Henry's men struggle to take the town of Harfleur, and many of them fall ill due to the struggle of battle. The French army then sends 60,000 troops to fight against Henry's weakened 12,000. After a brutal day of battle, Henry receives news that his men managed to kill 10,000 French troops- a decisive victory for England. The play ends with Henry courting Katharine, the princess of France, in the hopes of uniting the two countries under a single crown. The conflict is resolved as Katharine's father, King Charles VI, gives Henry his blessing to marry Katharine and signs a peace treaty between the two nations.

 

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