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Henry V Society and Class Quotes

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

Quote #1

By my troth, he'll yield the crow a pudding
one of these days. The King has killed his heart.
Good husband, come home presently. (2.1.85-87)

Shakespeare brings Mistress Quickly back for a few more good times in Henry V, but he doesn't let her live long. (Toward the end of the play, we learn that she, like Falstaff, has died from a venereal disease. This follows on the heels of the news that both Bardolph and Nim have been hanged for stealing.) Why does Shakespeare kill off so many of his low-brow characters from Eastcheap in this play? Is it because they're too rowdy and disruptive? Is Shakespeare worried that they'll detract from Henry's serious war campaign? Something else?

Quote #2

Which is a wonder how his grace should glean it,
Since his addiction was to courses vain,
His companies unlettered, rude, and shallow,
His hours filled up with riots, banquets, sports,
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity. (1.1.56-62)

In the previous passage, we asked why Shakespeare killed off so many of his seedy Eastcheap characters. When we think about how Henry has put the rowdy days of his youth (and his old Eastcheap friends) behind him, it seems like Shakespeare had to get rid of Falstaff, Quickly, Bardolph, and Nim to signal that Henry really has buried his past.

Quote #3

Therefore doth heaven divide
The state of man in divers functions,
Setting endeavor in continual motion,
To which is fixèd as an aim or butt
Obedience; for so work the honeybees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king and officers of sorts,
Where some like magistrates correct at home,
Others like merchants venture trade abroad,
Others like soldiers armèd in their stings
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds,
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent royal of their emperor,
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
The sad-eyed justice with his surly hum
Delivering o’er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone. (1.2.191-212)

Canterbury's speech is interesting because the Archbishop uses such vivid imagery to justify the subservient relationship between subjects and their monarch. Here, he makes an analogy between society and a colony of honeybees. Like people, honeybees have a leader (in the Renaissance people thought that queen bees were male) and the rest of the hive works toward a common goal. In other words, Canterbury is arguing that the division of people into various classes is as natural as a hive of bees working together in harmony.

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