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Henry V Family Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)

Quote #1

The breath no sooner left his father’s body
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seemed to die too. Yea, at that very moment
Consideration like an angel came
And whipped th’ offending Adam out of him,
Leaving his body as a paradise
T’ envelop and contain celestial spirits. (1.1.27-33)

There's a whole lot of talk in this play about King Henry V's relationship to his dead father, King Henry IV. Why? In a world where crowns are supposed to be passed from fathers to sons, it's nearly impossible to separate politics from family. Here, Canterbury suggests that, when Henry IV died, his son not only inherited the English crown but also experienced a sudden and miraculous transformation.

Quote #2

Howbeit they would hold up this Salic law
To bar your Highness claiming from the female,
And rather choose to hide them in a net
Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
Usurped from you and your progenitors.
May I with right and conscience make this claim? (1.2.96-101)

We talk about Salic Law in "Symbolism," but it's worth mentioning here because it's a rule that says women can't inherit the French throne and their sons (and grandsons, etc.) can't inherit it either. The great-great-grandson of a French princess, Henry V contests the Salic Law and makes a claim to the French throne. In other words, when it's convenient, Henry uses family as an excuse to take the crown, regardless of whether or not it's right or justifiable.

Quote #3

Gracious lord,
Stand for your own, unwind your bloody flag,
Look back into your mighty ancestors.
Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire’s tomb,
From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit
And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,
Who on the French ground played a tragedy,
Making defeat on the full power of France
Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
Stood smiling to behold his lion’s whelp
Forage in blood of French nobility. (1.2.105-115)

In this play, relationships between fathers and sons (and even uncles and nephews) seem to be strengthened by wartime heroics. When Canterbury encourages Henry V to declare war on France, he tells the king to look back at his family tree for inspiration in order to invoke his great-uncle's "war-like spirit." (Henry's great-uncle was Edward the "Black Prince," the guy who terrorized France in the mid-1300s. Later in the play, King Charles recalls how the Black Prince slaughtered the French while the prince's dad, King Edward III, stood on a mountain top watching as his "heroical seed" in action.

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