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

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englishprof1564 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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...

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