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Henry V Power Quotes

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

Quote #7

I think the King is but a
man, as I am. The violet smells to him as it doth to
me. The element shows to him as it doth to me. All
his senses have but human conditions. His ceremonies
laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man,
and though his affections are higher mounted than
ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like
wing. Therefore when he sees reason of fears as we
do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as
ours are. Yet, in reason, no man should possess him
with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it,
should dishearten his army. (4.1.105-116)

Disguised as a common soldier, King Henry walks among his troops the night before battle and delivers a speech that reveals his isolation. Here, he tries really hard to convince us that he's just a "man" like everybody else. The fact that he's running around in a disguise so he can hang out with his troops like a regular Joe suggests that Henry longs for the human connection he enjoyed with Falstaff and company (back in Henry IV Part 1). The moral? It's lonely at the top.

Quote #8

Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we
know enough, if we know we are the king's subjects.
If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the
king wipes the crime of it out of us.
But if the cause be not good, the King
himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all
those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a
battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry
all 'We died at such a place,' some swearing, some
crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left
poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe,
some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard
there are few die well that die in a battle, for how
can they charitably dispose of anything, when blood
is their argument? Now, if these men do not die
well, it will be a black matter for the king that led
them to it, who to disobey were against all proportion
of subjection. (4.1.134-151)

Not everyone is on board with Henry's war. As Bates and Williams point out, most of the common soldiers don't even know if the king is justified in invading France. Bates says he doesn't even want to know if the king is wrong because he's powerless to do anything about it. Williams delivers the most crushing accusation when he says that Henry is ultimately responsible for sending his soldiers to their deaths.

Quote #9

So, if a son that is by his father sent about
merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea,
the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule,
should be imposed upon his father that sent him. (4.1.152-155)

This is Henry's response to Williams' claim that the king is responsible for the deaths of his soldiers. Here, he compares kingship to fatherhood in order to shirk responsibility (once again). Does this even make sense? Why or why not?

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