Henry V Act IV, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis

William Shakespeare

Act IV, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Lord Grandpre: a French noble and military commander

Lord Beaumont: a French noble and military commander

Summary
The scene returns to the French camp as the sun rises, signaling the beginning of the battle. While the Dauphin and other officers mount up, mention is again made of the the enemy’s pitiful condition, and again we see their self-assurance. Constable says they need only take the field and their mere presence will scare the English to death:

Do but behold yond poor and starved band,
And your [i.e., the nobles’] fair show shall suck away their souls,
Leaving them but the shales and husks of men.

To this is added a lengthy speech by another officer, Grandpre, characterizing the foe as men already dead.

Analysis
In this brief, final look at the cocksure French, Grandpre’s speech has thematic importance. Religious references and biblical allusions abound in the play, both in the dialogue—there are scores of invocations to God—and in actions such as the preceding scene. Here, Grandpre raises a theme that is pervasive in the Bible and central to Christian theology: death and rebirth. The Frenchman calls the English “carrions”—that is corpses—and describes them at length in similarly ghoulish terms. This sets up the climax of the play, in which the “ragged,” “beggared” English come back from certain death and are metaphorically reborn in victory.