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Character Clues

Character Analysis


Shakespeare doesn't make any bones about the fact that he's writing for an English audience who's watching a play about defeating France at the Battle of Agincourt. That's why it's not surprising that he portrays most of the French characters as foolish, arrogant, self-indulgent, and, in the end, kind of wimpy. This is especially true of the Dauphin (who underestimates Henry's skill as a monarch and military leader) and the French soldiers (like Bourbon), who spend most of their time bagging on the English.


Most of the characters in this play are modeled after historical figures, so their names don't really have any symbolic meaning. Still, that doesn't stop Shakespeare from assigning meaningful names to his purely fictional characters, like Pistol, Nim, and Mistress Quickly. Pistol, as we know, is a loudmouth and a braggart who likes to fight. In Old English, "Nim" (the name of the guy who gets hanged for being a thief) means "to steal." Like we've said before, Mistress Quickly's bawdy name is fitting because she's associated with brothels and dies of a venereal disease.