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Henry V

Henry V

Power Quotes Page 3

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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. (4.1.20)

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 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 any thing, 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; whom to disobey were against all proportion of
subjection. (4.1.3)

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: (4.1.2)

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?