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Henry V

Henry V

 Table of Contents

Henry V Memory and the Past Quotes

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Quote #1

CANTERBURY The king is full of grace and fair regard.ELY And a true lover of the holy church.CANTERBURY The courses of his youth promised it not.The breath no sooner left his father's body,But that his wildness, mortified in him,Seem'd to die too; yea, at that very momentConsideration, like an angel, cameAnd whipp'd the offending Adam out of him,Leaving his body as a paradise,To envelop and contain celestial spirits.Never was such a sudden scholar made;Never came reformation in a flood,With such a heady currance, scouring faultsNor never Hydra-headed wilfulnessSo soon did lose his seat and all at onceAs in this king. (1.1.4)

The play is always reminding us about how much Henry has changed since the wild days of his youth. Here, Canterbury and Ely can't stop talking about what an amazing king Henry turned out to be, which seems like a miracle since he used to be such a degenerate.

Quote #2

CANTERBURY He seems indifferent,Or rather swaying more upon our partThan cherishing the exhibiters against us;For I have made an offer to his majesty,Upon our spiritual convocationAnd in regard of causes now in hand,Which I have open'd to his grace at large,As touching France, to give a greater sumThan ever at one time the clergy yetDid to his predecessors part withal.ELY How did this offer seem received, my lord?CANTERBURY With good acceptance of his majesty;Save that there was not time enough to hear,As I perceived his grace would fain have done,The severals and unhidden passagesOf his true titles to some certain dukedomsAnd generally to the crown and seat of FranceDerived from Edward, his great-grandfather. (1.2.8)

Early on, we learn that a bill has just resurfaced in Parliament. (The bill had been raised before in Henry IV's reign, but it was pushed aside while England dealt with internal strife.) If the bill passes this time, the Church will lose a ton of money and land to the crown's treasury, so Canterbury and Ely want to make it disappear. Their solution is to urge Henry into a war with France and offer him a large sum of money to finance the campaign. This recalls a moment in Henry IV Part 2, where Henry IV advised his son to "busy giddy minds / With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out, / May waste the memory of the former days" (4.5.9). This raises an important question: is Henry's war with France an attempt to distract the "giddy minds" of the English so that they will forget that Henry's dad was a throne-stealer?

Quote #3

But I will rise there with so full a gloryThat I will dazzle all the eyes of France,Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us. (1.2.10)

Even though Henry is no longer a wild young prince who spends his time carousing with thugs, the Dauphin of France refuses to acknowledge Henry's transformation. One could argue that Henry's final decision to invade France is motivated by Henry's desire to force the Dauphin to recognize his majesty and power. We notice here that Henry uses the same metaphor he developed back in Henry IV Part 1, when he compared himself to the "sun" and promised that his transformation into a glorious king would dazzle his subjects and make them forget his riotous youth.

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