Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1145

With Henry V, Shakespeare highlights the influence of England’s great kings on the trajectory of history in western Europe. Henry V belongs to a group of Shakespeare’s history plays. The Henriad (as it has come to be known) consists of the plays Richard II, Henry IV, Part I, Henry IV, Part II, and Henry V. Linguists and scholars also include another tetralogy in the Henriad, namely Henry VI, Part I, Henry VI, Part II, Henry VI, Part III, and Richard III. Both tetralogies are significant in that they highlight the rise of Henry V, England’s warrior king, and represent a shift away from the classical unities of time, action, and place.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Henry V Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Shakespeare may have written the plays as two sets of tetralogies, but each play stands on its own. Still, Shakespeare’s flouting of the classical unities reveals the effects of time on the fortunes of England’s great kings. We see how psychological factors affect decision-making across generations. Henry IV, Henry V, and Richard II were all betrayed by their closest confidants. Through his tetralogies, Shakespeare shows how the past affects the future. 

In light of this, we begin to understand Henry V’s preoccupation with loyalty. In Henry V, Henry orders the immediate execution of Cambridge, Grey, and Scrope after their plot is uncovered. This swift judgment, along with his order to kill all French prisoners during the Battle of Agincourt, has led to the characterization of Henry V as an unflinching, ruthless, Machiavellian leader.

However, Shakespeare’s audience may well have understood Henry’s intolerance for rebellions. For one thing, they would have been familiar with the historical events that led to the Battle of Shrewsbury, which was highlighted in the Henry IV plays. The Shrewsbury rebellion was led by Henry “Hotspur” Percy and his uncle, the Earl of Worcester. Both insisted that Richard II was the rightful king of England, not Henry of Bolingbroke, or Henry IV.

Prior to the Battle of Shrewsbury, the failed Epiphany Rising plot (1399–1400) against Henry’s father showed that a living Richard II would always present a threat. On February 14, 1400, the latter died a mysterious death in Pontefract Castle. Neither Henry of Bolingbroke nor Henry V were ever implicated in Richard’s death, but the consequences were clear: Richard’s death removed the possibility of his supporters initiating more uprisings on his behalf.

Henry V looks at France’s intransigence as a rebellion of sorts. In making preparations to sail for France, he tells his advisers that his actions are within “the will of God” and that his hands are stretched forth in a “well-hallow’d cause.” He is, after all, a “Christian king” who won't go to war unless his chief advisers “justly and religiously unfold” the reasons for it. Henry’s religious language would have appealed to the sensibilities of an Elizabethan audience familiar with the history of English kings leading holy wars (Crusades) in the Middle East. 

In the play, Shakespeare also shows Henry V to be a skilled military tactician. Having honed his skills in his father’s army, Henry decides to take Harfleur first. The French have long used the port city, situated at the mouth of the Seine, to send troops north in support of uprisings in Wales and the northern regions of England. Therefore, the siege of Harfleur is part of Henry’s calculated plan to choke off provisions to the Welsh and Scottish rebels as well as secure a base from which to launch military campaigns against the French. 

It is also in Harfleur that Henry uses his famous cannons against the French, thus fulfilling his promise to the Dauphin that he would turn the latter’s tennis balls into “gunstones” to wreak a “wasteful vengeance” that would “mock mothers from their sons” and “mock castles down.” Henry’s mention of castles isn’t accidental. In France, he focuses on capturing strategic castles located along the banks of rivers. In turn, these castles are used to facilitate the shipping of provisions and weapons to English troops and to hinder the advance of French troops. It is a clever calculation on Henry’s part.

The key highlight of the play is, of course, the Battle of Agincourt. Historians tell us that the French likely had twenty thousand soldiers at Agincourt, compared to the six thousand under Henry’s command. Not only were they outnumbered, Henry’s soldiers were war-sick and hungry, and many had been stricken with dysentery. In prologue of act 4, the Chorus describes the sense of doom in Henry’s camp:

The poor condemnèd English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently and inly ruminate
The morning’s danger; and their gesture sad,
Investing lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats,
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts.

By all indications, the English should never have won in Agincourt. But, they did, arguably thanks to Henry’s impeccable instincts. As French troops advanced, he ordered his archers to launch a volley of arrows at the enemy, at that point two hundred yards away. The arrows threw the French cavalry into disarray. The wounded horses panicked and screamed in pain. Any that managed to avoid the arrows ran straight ahead, only to be impaled upon the sharp stakes the English had positioned on the front lines.

The French cavalry attempted to backtrack, running straight into their advancing peers on foot. The ground, muddy from the previous night’s rain, also impeded the efficient movement of French troops in their full armor. Henry’s calculations carried the day, despite the odds. 

In his portrayal of Henry V, Shakespeare’s emphasis on heroism is juxtaposed against the backdrop of history. It is a move designed to immortalize Henry V in the eyes of the Elizabethan audience and highlight England’s vital role on the world stage in the Hundred Years’ War. 

Shakespeare’s Henry V, first performed in 1599, also premiered during a momentous time in England’s history. The country was at war on two fronts and its aging queen was focused on solidifying Huguenot control of the French throne. Fiercely Protestant Elizabeth I also faced Catholic rebellions at home. In addition, an Irish uprising was draining the royal coffers. Tyrone’s Rebellion, also known as the Nine Years’ War, took more than eighteen thousand English soldiers to defeat. Meanwhile, Europe was struggling with famine (1590-1598), and English towns were devastated by a bubonic plague (1592-1598). 

In light of this, Henry V served as a needed diversion for a beleaguered populace. It retold the story of a powerful king who prevailed against all odds to achieve victory for England. With Henry V, Shakespeare highlights a king’s power to secure their nation’s relevance in the midst of political, social, and economic uncertainty—a fitting reminder for an England in turmoil.

Historical Background

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 580

When Shakespeare began writing plays, the English stage was still in its infancy. Because of strong religious attitudes, for centuries the only types of drama allowed were allegories, such as Everyman, which preached moral lessons in a highly formalized fashion. In England, however, things began to change during the early 1500s, under the very secular King Henry VIII. For the first time, plays, such as Ralph Roister Doister and Gammer Gurton’s Needle began showing real people in real-life situations. Still, their plots and characterizations were relatively primitive. It is astonishing to realize that only a few decades later, Shakespeare and his contemporaries would raise staged drama to the heights of artistic excellence and sophistication.

Only a handful of theaters existed in Shakespeare’s time, and the one with which he was most associated was the Globe. Circular in shape (a reference by Chorus in Henry V calls it “this wooden O”), it had a small stage that protruded onto an open courtyard. In box seats overlooking this space sat the nobles, merchants, and other people of wealth. On the bare earth were the common folk (“groundlings”), who paid a few pennies for admission and stood for the entire performance.

Except for a balcony, a few trapdoors, and tapestry curtains, the Elizabethan stage presented little in the way of theatrical illusion. Nor did the audience demand it. Unlike theatergoers of today, who look for constant action, they were more interested in opulent costumes and long, poetic speeches. They were also accustomed to imagining much of the action, which was typically suggested by the dialogue or conveyed by offstage sound effects. In Henry V, for example, whose setting switches from England to France and whose climax is a battle, Shakespeare uses a player called Chorus to “set the scene” in the minds of the audience. This man narrates the story and gives key bits of information, such as the fact that three of Henry’s trusted advisors are traitors, and describes vividly large-scale locales, such as the battlefield.

Like Shakespeare’s other history dramas, Henry V takes a number of liberties with the truth. At the actual Battle of Agincourt, for example, the English army was outmanned 3 to 1—not 5 to 1, as in the play. Nor was the battle the decisive one of the war; in fact, it took Henry three more years to conquer France, and the final conflict occurred at Normandy.

Even more interestingly, Shakespeare willfully ignores the real hero of the battle—the English archer. What won the day in 1415 was the use of a new weapon, the longbow, which could send —armor-piercing arrows from a great distance and with deadly accuracy. Each time the heavily encumbered French knights tried to charge, their horses were stopped by long, sharpened stakes that the English had embedded in the earth. As the attack bogged down, the longbowmen instantly rained thousands upon thousands of arrows upon them. The result was a frightful slaughter of the mounted troops, but virtually no British losses. So effective was the longbow, in fact, that it ended the use of an armored cavalry forever.

Shakespeare slights this aspect of the story because his real subject is not the common soldier, but Henry himself. Throughout the play, the focus is on Henry—his heroic exploits, his stirring oratory, even his faults and failings. In the end, we have not only a tapestry of war, but also a portrait of a complex, magnetic, larger-than-life character, the complete Shakespearean hero.

Places Discussed

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on October 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 680


*London. Capital of England and the site of Henry’s royal court, London serves as the setting for the opening scenes of the play. By the fifteenth century, the time in which Shakespeare sets his play, London is the economic, political, and religious seat of power in England. Such concentration of power is underscored by the opening scene in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely plot to counter a bill before Parliament that would take away half of the Church’s lands. The clerics propose to fund an English military campaign against the French, if Henry will overlook their taxes. Consequently, the churchmen devise an argument that Henry has clear title to the French throne, territory that the English held in earlier times. Thus, Shakespeare locates in London the imperial power, the political machinations, and the religious finances to support the conquest Henry wishes to undertake.

London also serves as the location of the opening scenes of the second act, when Shakespeare transports playgoers to a common street outside a boardinghouse. There, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol, former companions of the King in wilder days, decide to follow Henry to France as common soldiers. Again, Shakespeare uses the setting of London to juxtapose the bawdy and common folk with the high royalty of the King. Henry’s actions have consequences from the top to the bottom of society.


*Southampton. Seaport on England’s southern coast from which Henry’s army embarks for France. Southampton is a place of transition: by crossing the water, Henry will leave the land of his own sovereignty to put himself and his men in harm’s way in order to conquer France. Tellingly, it is in Southampton where Bedford and Exeter uncover a treasonous plot against the King. The traitors, according to Henry, have conspired and “sworn unto the practices of France/ to kill us here in Hampton.” Finding traitors on British soil, just at the moment of departure indicated by the setting at Southampton, forewarns the King of the dangers ahead.


*Harfleur (hah-FLUR). Walled city in France under siege by Henry and his army. The third act opens with Henry’s famous “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;/ Or close the wall up with our English dead.” In this scene, Shakespeare does as the opening chorus says he will; through words and imagination, he is able to transform a small stage into the site of a great siege. The siege at Harfleur allows audiences to experience all levels of the attack, from Henry’s exhortations to his men, to Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol’s cowardice, to the Welshman Fluellen’s close attention to the rules of war. It also provides Henry’s first victory on French soil.


*Rouen (rew-AN). City in Normandy that is the site of the royal court of France during the time in which the play is set. Shakespeare shifts his scene immediately from the fray and bloodshed of Harfleur to the Rouen bedroom of Princess Katharine of France, where she is teasing her old serving woman for English lessons. Their light-hearted exchange—entirely in French—contrasts markedly with the discussion that follows among the French king, the Dauphin, and the lord constable about the English king Henry’s sweep through France.


*Agincourt (AH-zheen-kohr). Village in northern France that is the site of perhaps the greatest military victory ever enjoyed by the English. Without question, playgoers of Shakespeare’s day would have known the history and significance of Agincourt. The setting, then, is at the core of this historical drama whose purpose is one of nationalism, patriotism, and imperialism. Using the words supplied by Shakespeare and their own imaginations, playgoers could once again relive the glory of being English. Indeed, the celebration of “Englishness” is one of the hallmarks of the Elizabethan Age. Shakespeare’s choice of Agincourt as the crucial setting for his play reflects his desire to connect the late sixteenth century reign of Queen Elizabeth I with the heroic deeds of early sixteenth century King Henry V.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on October 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 879


Henry establishes his right to kingship by fulfilling the qualities required of a true king in several different ways. He focuses on both securing his right to the English crown and capturing the French throne. He follows the advice given to him by his father at the end of Henry IV, Part Two, to "busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels." He accomplishes this task by waging war on France and asserting his claim to the French throne, which was denied his great-great-grandmother because of the Salic law which made succession through the female line illegal. The war against France establishes both Henry's legal and moral right to the throne: by discrediting the Salic law and defeating the French army, Henry captures the crown; and by accepting responsibility and showing concern for his subjects, he earns the ethical right to kingship as well.

Henry's moral growth and acceptance of his role as king is seen throughout the play. Some of the characteristics of kingship include the king's relationship to his counselors, his divinity, his valid succession, and the burden of kingship. As king, Henry serves as the link between personal order and political unity and is required to show complete dedication to his office. He cannot allow selfishness or weakness to interfere with his duties as king. Most critics agree that although Henry struggles to achieve a balance between the demands of the crown and his own personal desires, by the end of the play he accepts his role and learns to integrate his humanity.

Language and Imagery

While analysis of the language in Henry V has yielded a variety of critical interpretations, most scholars concur that the kind of rhetoric used makes a significant contribution to the play's theme, tone, and meaning. Some critics point to the strenuous effort that the language requires of its speaker and requests of its audience and how this effort relates to the atmosphere of activity found in the play. Still others focus on the disputative tone of the language and its parallel to the dominant theme of war. This mode of speech can be traced throughout the play, as it begins with a tone of agreement (the choric appeal to English nationalism, the request for cooperation between the performer and the audience, and the first scenes showing the church and state working together), moves to dispute and war, and then concludes with a return to peace. Criticism of the imagery in Henry V also concentrates on the transition to war, particularly through Shakespeare's use of death imagery.

Critics have often debated whether the language of Henry V equals that found in the first three plays of the tetralogy. A number of scholars contend that the language is flatter and less powerful than that of the previous plays. However, others maintain that because the prose is so natural and deceptively close to common speech, the depth and artistry of the language is more subtle and no less artful than in the more prominent speeches.

Epic Elements

Shakespeare's use of epic elements in Henry V has elicited much critical attention. By far the most panoramic of his plays, Henry V dramatizes an epic theme and celebrates a legendary hero. According to several scholars, the play, therefore, fulfills most of the formal requirements of classical epic: its hero is of national significance; it emphasizes destiny and the will of God; its action is impressive in scale and centers upon war; and it includes a narrator, an invocation to the Muse, a large number of warriors, battle taunts and challenges, and other traditional epic devices. Most commentators agree that Shakespeare's use of epic elements contributes significantly to the success of the play, stating that an epic drama was the only fitting way to celebrate the noble deeds of Henry V.

Scholars repeatedly focus on the role of the Chorus in exposing the limitations of the Elizabethan stage. Many critics remark that the function of the Chorus is to apologise for the unsuitability of the stage in depicting the grandeur of an epic. However, other commentators contend that Shakespeare's audience would never have expected the kind of cinematic "realism" that the Chorus makes apology for lacking. Though the Chorus fulfills several functions as narrator—creating atmosphere, explaining lapses of time and shifts in locale, apologizing for the limitations of the theater—its most important function is to evoke an epic mood. The Chorus also creates structural unity in the play itself by building narrative bridges between the five acts. The play's choric prologues have similarly received critical praise for their eloquence and contribution to the epic tone of the play.

Patriotism and War

Many twentieth-century critics have explored the pervasive concern with war and patriotism in Henry V. Some commentators contend that the play is primarily concerned with the price of patriotism, arguing that Henry finally becomes controlled by the role he has assumed. The interaction between structure and theme can be seen in Shakespeare's development throughout the three central movements of the plot: the preparation for war, the combat itself, and the concluding of peace. In addition, scholars have praised Shakespeare's accurate portrayal of Renaissance warfare through his use of specific details such as the slaughter of the prisoners and threats of plundering, sacking, and burning.

Modern Connections

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 638

Henry V is the last play in a historical tetralogy which includes Richard II, Henry IV, Part One, and Henry IV, Part Two. While these three plays provide interesting background information about Henry's predecessors and his former life as prince, Henry V can be understood and enjoyed as a separate unit.

A central element in Henry V is the issue of King Henry's maturation. Henry becomes king in Henry IV, Part Two, after the death of his father in Act V of that play. Throughout Henry IV, Part One and Two, Henry, as Prince Hal, is perceived by many as a reckless youth who spends much of his time with drunks and criminals. When he is crowned king, he begins to reform his image by turning away from his old friends, but he has yet to prove that he will be a responsible king. Critical opinion is divided over whether Shakespeare's character King Henry V is indeed a just and heroic leader who acts as "the mirror of all Christian kings" (Ch.II.6), or is instead a ruthless Machiavellian who manipulates people and events to get what he wants. (A Machiavellian is someone who believes that politics is amoral and that it is therefore acceptable to use underhanded methods to obtain and keep power.) Whether he is viewed as a sincere man and a hero, or a ruthless and ambitious leader, the fact remains that Henry leads his troops to victory and unites the kingdoms of England and France.

Similarly, in modern times many people are put in a position where they must prove that, despite what they may have done in their past, they have matured and are ready for new responsibilities. This happens to most everyone, including teenagers who must demonstrate that they are ready for a car, a job, or later, to move out of the house, and even happens to political leaders, who must prove that despite their own checkered past, they are able and qualified to take on the responsibility of representing and leading the people of their city, state, or country. Like King Henry, today's political figures may be seen positively, as competent leaders, or negatively, as individuals who put their desires for personal power over the needs of their constituencies.

Henry V is a play with an international focus, looking not only at the antagonism between England and France, but also at the interaction between the nationalities that coexist on the British Isles. Act III scene ii, for example, features a discussion between the English Gower, the Welsh Fluellen, the Scots Jamy, and the Irish Macmorris. Critics have remarked that the meeting of these four men as soldiers on the same side reflects the fact that King Henry has been able to unite all of Britain against a common enemy. Nevertheless, of the four, only the Englishman, Gower, speaks without an accent; of the rest, the Scotsman says ''gud'' instead of ''good," the Welshman substitutes p's for b's and has a verbal tic ("look you"), and the highly emotional Irishman slurs his s's. Such stereotyping would be considered offensive by many modern readers and could be considered a mocking attack against the three men, if it weren't for the fact that Henry V is himself proud of being Welsh (IV.vii. 104-05), or that Gower chastises Pistol for being rude to Captain Fluellen merely because he does not "speak English in the native garb" (V.i.75-76). Additionally, there is Katherine's comically garbled English lesson in III.iv and the mess that King Henry makes of French as he is courting Katherine in V.ii: any student who has tried to learn a foreign language can identify with the missteps taken by both Katherine and Henry as they stumble through the early stages of a language that is not their own.

Media Adaptations

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 123

Henry V. J. Arthur Rank, 1944.
Classic adaptation of the play, distinguished by Laurence Olivier's formal experiment of beginning the drama as a 16th-century performance of the play in the Globe Theatre, and having the stage eventually
transform into realistic historical settings. Starring Olivier as Henry. Distributed by Paramount Home Video, Home Vision Cinema. 136 minutes.

Henry V. Cedric Messina; Dr. Jonathan Miller; BBC, 1980.
Part of the "Shakespeare Plays" series. Distributed by Ambrose Video Publishing, Inc. 163 minutes.

Henry V. Samuel Goldwyn, 1989.
Unrated. Stirring, expansive retelling of the play stressing the high cost of war—showing the ego-mania, doubts, and subterfuge that underlie conflicts. Stars Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Alec McCowen, Paul Scofield, and Emma Thompson. Distributed by CBS/ Fox Video, Signals, The Video Catalog. 138 minutes.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on October 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 269

Berger, Thomas L. “Casting ‘Henry V.’” Shakespeare Studies: An Annual Gathering of Research, Criticism, and Reviews 20 (1987): 89-104. Emphasizes that understanding the Elizabethan custom of multiple acting roles helps readers make thematic, ironic, comic, and aesthetic connections in the play.

Cook, Dorothy. “‘Henry V’: Maturing of Man and Majesty.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 5, no. 1 (April, 1972): 111-128. Argues that the play demonstrates Henry’s responsibility and personal maturity, his political and military virtues in Acts I and II and his private virtues in the final acts. The play’s structural pattern alternates triumphs and reversals and uses a quickening pace, multiple plotting contrasts, and a psychologically effective dramatic balance.

Kernan, Alvin. “The Henriad: Shakespeare’s Major History Plays.” The Yale Review 59, no. 1 (October, 1969): 3-32. Concludes that the tetralogy records “the passage from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and the modern world” and depicts Henry V as a consummate politician with a clear-cut public role that is necessitated by his desire to rule well.

Rabkin, Norman. “Rabbits, Ducks, and ‘Henry V.’ ” Shakespeare Quarterly 28, no. 3 (Summer, 1977): 279-296. Rabkin argues the “fundamental ambiguity” of the play: Henry as both model Christian monarch and brutal Machiavel, a ruthless, expedient, manipulative ruler with spiritual and political virtues. This mature duality makes Henry V a good but inscrutable king.

Thayer, C. G. “The Mirror of All Christian Kings.” In Shakespearean Politics: Government and Misgovernment in the Great Histories. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1983. Argues that the pragmatic, responsible Henry V is Shakespeare’s model for a Renaissance monarch. Ruling more by personal achievement than by divine right, he reflects the kind of kingship considered ideal in 1599.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on October 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1235

For Further Reading

Barnet, Sylvan. "The English History Plays." In A Short Guide to Shakespeare, pp. 113-37. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1972.

Analyzes the character of Henry V within the context of the tetralogy {Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V). Barnet also compares the structure and language of Henry V with the other three plays.

Battenhouse, Roy W. "Henry V as Heroic Comedy." In Essays on Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama, in Honor o/Hardin Craig, edited by Richard Hosley, pp. 163-82. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1962.

Labels Henry V a "heroic comedy," claiming that in this work Shakespeare offers a deeply ironical view of history by simultaneously presenting the king as a glorious national hero and as a man motivated by greed.

Berman, Ronald, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Henry V: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968, 120 p.

Collection of critical essays from scholars including William Butler Yeats, E. M. W. Tillyard, and Una Ellis-Fermor.

Boyce, Charles. Shakespeare A to Z. New York: Roundtable Press, Inc., 1990.

Brennan, Anthony S. "That Within Which Passes Show: The Function of the Chorus in Henry V." Philological Quarterly 58, No. 1 (Winter 1979): 40-52.

Details the role of the Chorus and compares the prologues with the content of each act.

Brooke, Stopford A. "Henry K" In Ten More Plays of Shakespeare, pp. 294-313. London: Constable and Co., 1913.

Asserts that in Henry V Shakespeare offers a superbly balanced view of war and patriotism.

Cook, Dorothy. "Henry V: Maturing of Man and Majesty." Studies in Literary Imagination 5, No. 1 (April 1972): 111-28.

Dramatizes the theme of individual maturity by demonstrating the king's growing realization of both his responsibility toward his subjects and the necessity of a humble reliance on the will of God.

Coursen, Herbert R., Jr. "Henry V and the Nature of Kingship." Discourse: A Review of the Liberal Arts XIII, No. 3 (Summer 1970): 279-305.

Contends that Henry V is an ingenious politician who, in the course of becoming a successful monarch, has lost the ability to act as an "average" citizen.

Danson, Lawrence. "Henry V: King, Chorus, and Critics." Shakespeare Quarterly 34, No. 1 (Spring 1983): 27-43.

Defends the Chorus against critical controversy.

Dean, Paul. "Chronicle and Romance Modes in Henry V." Shakespeare Quarterly 32, No. 1 (Spring 1981): 18-27.

Examines Henry Vas both a "chronicle" and "romance" history and studies the relationship between the Chorus and the king.

Fleissner, Robert F. "Falstaff's Green Sickness Unto Death." Shakespeare Quarterly XII, No. 1 (Winter 1961): 47-55.

Comments on the appearance of Falstaff before his death.

Goldman, Michael. "Henry V: The Strain of Rule." In Shakespeare and the Energies of Drama, pp. 58-73. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Examines the great speeches of the Chorus and of Henry, commenting on the relationship they create between the actors and the audience and contends that the theme of the play is overcoming limitations by supreme effort.

Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion. New York: Shocken Books, 1964.

Ludowyk, E. F. C. Understanding Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962.

Ornstein, Robert. "Henry V." In A Kingdom For A Stage: The Achievement of Shakespeare's History Plays, pp. 175-202. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972. Contends that despite allusions throughout Henry V to justice and mercy, Shakespeare presents war as brutal and dehumanizing.

Phialas, Peter G. "Shakespeare's Henry Kand the Second Tetralogy." Studies in Philology LXII, No. 2 (April 1965): 155-75.

Views the nature of kingship and the ideal relation between a ruler and his subjects as the central thematic interests in Henry V.

Platt, Michael. "Falstaff in the Valley of the Shadow of Death." Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 8, No. 1 January 1979): 5-29.

Asserts that Falstaff's death is a central plot point in Henry V. The critic notes that of the three instances of men preparing for death, Falstaff's death is the only one from which Henry is absent. Platt discusses Falstaff's final words and analyzes Mistress Quickly's report of his death.

Quinn, Michael, ed. Shakespeare: Henry V, A Casebook. London: Macmillan and Co., 1969, 252 p.

Includes excerpts of criticism by Samuel Johnson and George Bernard Shaw as well as full length essays by E. E. Stoll and others.

Rabkin, Norman. "The Polity." In Shakespeare and the Common Understanding, pp. 80-149. New York: The Free Press, 1967.

Asserts that the ideal representation of Henry is more of a fantasy than a reality, stating that although Henry is depicted as a wise and fortunate ruler, he is not flawless.

Reese, M. M. "Shakespeare's England: Henry V." In The Cease of Majesty: A Study of Shakespeare's History Plays, pp. 317-32. London: Edward Arnold, 1961.

Argues that a true appreciation of Henry V requires that he be judged by Elizabethan rather than modern standards.

Richmond, H. M. "Henry V." In Shakespeare's Political Plays, pp. 175-200. New York: Random House, 1967. Traces the king's development from deceit and hypocrisy in the early scenes to responsibility and humility at the close.

Rossiter, A. P. "Ambivalence: The Dialectic of the Histories." In Angel with Horns and Other Shakespeare Lectures, edited by Graham Storey, pp. 40-64. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1961.

Discusses the relationship between serious and comic elements in Shakespeare's history plays.

Shakespeare, William. Henry V, ed. Barbara A. Mowat. The Folger Shakespeare Library. New York: Pocket Books, 1995.

Shalvi, Alice. "Studies in Kingship: Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V." In The World and Art of Shakespeare, edited by A. A. Mendilow and Alice Shalvi, pp. 89-118. Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1967. Contends that Henry is an ideal king, but because of this fact, there is little tension or development in the play.

Smith, Gordon Ross. "Shakespeare's Henry V: Another Part of the Critical Forest." Journal of the History of Ideas XXXVn, No. 1 (January-March 1976): 3-27.

Argues that the speeches and characters in Henry V reflect the diverse variety of political thought in the

Renaissance rather than a narrow Tudor orthodoxy.

Snyder, Karl E. "Kings and Kingship in Four of Shakespeare's History Plays." In Shakespeare 1964, edited by Jim W. Corder, pp. 43-58. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1965.

Examines the character of kings and kingship in Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V.

Soellner, Rolf. "Henry V: Patterning after Perfection." In Shakespeare's Patterns of Self-Knowledge, pp. 113-28. Ohio State University Press, 1972.

Argues that Henry V exemplifies the four cardinal virtues—fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance— which Renaissance Christian humanists held were requisite in a good man.

Walter, J. H. "Introduction to Henry V." In Shakespeare: The Histories, A Collection of Critical Essays, pp. 152- 67. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965.

Discusses the epic elements of Henry V, particularly Shakespeare's portrayal of the king as an ideal hero.

Watt, Homer A., Karl J. Holzknecht, Raymond Ross, Outlines of Shakespeare’s Plays. New York: Harper Collins, 1970.

Wentersdorf, Karl P. "The Conspiracy of Silence in Henry V." Shakespeare Quarterly 27, No. 3 (Summer 1976): 264-87.

Focuses on Henry's discovery of Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey's efforts to secure the crown for Edmund Mortimer.

Williams, Charles. "Henry V." In Shakespeare Criticism: 1919-1935, edited by Anne Ridler, pp. 180-88. London: Oxford University Press, 1936.

Contends that in Act IV Henry reveals for the first time that he has embraced the challenges that face him and attains a highly developed sense of honor.

Williamson, Marilyn L. "The Courtship of Katherine and the Second Tetralogy." Criticism XVII, No. 4 (Fall 1975): 326-34.

Argues that Henry's wooing of Katherine is consistent with his conduct earlier in Henry V and recapitulates a pattern of behaviour that he has demonstrated both in this play and in the Henry IV plays.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial




Explore Study Guides