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Henry V Society and Class Quotes

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

Quote #4

though I speak it to you, 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. (4.1.104-116)

Here, Henry tries to convince everyone that the "king is but a man," just like everyone else. This is a nice idea, but is it really true?

Quote #5

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. (4.1.138-151)

King Henry may view warfare as a way to gain honor and glory but here, Williams reminds us that the commoner soldier is worried about more practical issues, like losing their legs, arms, and heads during battle.

Quote #6

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today 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 abed
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. (4.3.62-69)

We've discussed this passage elsewhere, but it's important enough to talk about here as well. When Henry delivers his famous St. Crispin's Day speech, he assures his men that, when they fight together in battle, they will become "a band of brothers." Presumably, this newly forged bond will transcend barriers that have been erected by divisions in social status, since most of Henry's soldiers are simple "yeoman" (lower in status than gentlemen). Is Henry sincere when he makes this speech? (Henry's treatment of Williams later in the play suggests that he isn't.)

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