What messages does Henry V convey in the play by Shakespeare about war - the nature of war, consequences of war, the justification of war, the benefits of war, the military, etc.?

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Shakespeare's Henry V sees war as an ugly means to a valuable end. On the surface, he's very concerned with justifying the war; he asks Canterbur, "may we with right and conscience make this claim?" Yet once he is in France, he has no problem using dire threats of rape and murder to take over the town of Harfleur, or even having his soldiers cut their prisoners' throats for reasons that are somewhat unclear. (In fact, productions often switch the murder of the boys to come before the killing of the prisoners, just to make Henry seem more reasonable, even though in the play the prisoners are actually killed first.) Henry has no illusions about the horrors of war, but he sees them as worthwhile if he can win the throne of France for himself and his descendants.

Shakespeare’s approach to war in Henry V is multi-faceted. While the play does deal in some detail with the political motivations for the war, what sets it apart is its concern for the human costs of warfare, both in terms of lives...

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