Henry V Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;For he to-day that sheds his blood with meShall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,This day shall gentle his condition:And gentlemen in England now a-bedShall think themselves accursed they were not here,And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaksThat fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (4.3.1)
We've talked about this passage before, but it's important to the theme of gender so it's worth mentioning here. When Henry delivers his famous St. Crispin's Day speech, he suggests that warfare forges bonds between men that cannot be broken.
EXETER The pretty and sweet manner of it forcedThose waters from me which I would have stopp'd;But I had not so much of man in me,And all my mother came into mine eyesAnd gave me up to tears.KING HARRY I blame you not;For, hearing this, I must perforce compoundWith mistful eyes, or they will issue too. (4.7.2)
Because weeping is associated with weakness and women (especially "mother[s]"), Exeter is ashamed of the fact that he cried when he witnessed the deaths of men on the battlefield. What's interesting about this passage is that King Henry admits that he's feeling a little misty-eyed as well, which is touching and a little refreshing.
QUEEN ISABEL Our gracious brother, I will go with them:Haply a woman's voice may do some good,When articles too nicely urged be stood on.KING HARRY Yet leave our cousin Katharine here with us:She is our capital demand, comprisedWithin the fore-rank of our articles. (5.2.6)
When Queen Isabel announces that she's going to help the men negotiate the terms of the peace treaty, Henry asks her to leave her daughter behind, since Henry's marriage to Catherine is numero uno on Henry's list of demands. The fact that Catherine is on Henry's list of demands suggests that women don't really get any say at all when it comes to political matters, despite Isabel's claim that a "woman's voice" might hold some sway over the men.