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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #7

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (4.3.1)

Henry suggests that it's a privilege for his troops to fight by his side, even if they wind up dead. The king's strategy for rallying his troops seems to boil down to this: everyone who stayed at home is going to be so jealous! Plus, they'll feel like a bunch of wimps for not getting their battle on.

Quote #8

My people are with sickness much enfeebled,
My numbers lessened, and those few I have
Almost no better than so many French;
Who when they were in health, I tell thee, herald,
I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen. Yet, forgive me, God,
That I do brag thus! This your air of France
Hath blown that vice in me: I must repent.
Go therefore, tell thy master here I am;
My ransom is this frail and worthless trunk,
My army but a weak and sickly guard;
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on,
Though France himself and such another neighbour
Stand in our way. There's for thy labour, Montjoy.
Go bid thy master well advise himself:
If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder'd,
We shall your tawny ground with your red blood
Discolour: and so Montjoy, fare you well.
The sum of all our answer is but this:
We would not seek a battle, as we are;
Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it:
So tell your master. (3.7.7)

As the English troops prepare to fight at Agincourt, they are serious underdogs because they're exhausted, sick, and completely outnumbered. When Henry's army emerges virtually unscathed, the victory is that much more compelling. It's obvious that Shakespeare meant for the play to instill his audience with a sense of national pride.

Quote #9

Then every soldier kill his prisoners (4.6.3)

Wait a minute! What's this? How are we supposed to interpret Henry's order for his men to kill all of the French war prisoners? Is this the act of a noble king or a cold war monger? Is Shakespeare criticizing Henry? You decide.

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