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Quotes

Quote #4

For, 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. (4.1.20)

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 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. (4.1.2)

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 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)

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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