Henry V Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Henry V book cover
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What are the main themes in Henry V?

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Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


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I think a major theme in the play is maturity. Throughout the play, Henry has to make choices that are difficult and at odds with who he was as Prince Hal in the Henry IV plays. The famous example of this, of course, is his treatment of his old friend Falstaff. Whereas Prince Hal admired Falstaff for his love of fun and rejection of responsibility, once he becomes King he rejects Falstaff, a break that leads to the knight's death. One of the things that happens to Henry is that he recognizes that Henry the man and Henry the King, are different people. In order to be a good King, Henry learns that he cannot condone irresponsibility, no matter his personal convictions.

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besure77 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe that a major theme of Henry V is leadership and how it relates to morality. As King, Henry has to make decisions that would be immoral if he were just a common man. He betrays his friends and puts people to death to uphold the law. But since he is King, he is seen as brave, intelligent and incredibly focused. He is a great ruler and is able to inspire many men.

I think another theme is related to the problems within the country and how they may be forgotten when war is waged against France. When the attention of the people is focused elsewhere they will forget about the issues at home and Henry knows this.

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