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Henry V

Henry V

Henry V Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Power

Shakespeare's history plays are obsessed with royal power, especially the question of who has a right to rule and why. Should the throne be inherited by an eldest son? Can anyone just come along an...

Warfare

In Henry V, Shakespeare dramatizes England's invasion of France and King Henry's success at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). Does the play glorify war and justify Henry's actions, or does it reveal...

Patriotism

Henry V is one of the most patriotic works of art we've ever come across. The play is chock-full of rousing speeches that have been carefully crafted to portray the English troops as underdogs that...

Family

This may be a big war play concerned with foreign affairs and national politics, but there's also a whole lot of family drama in Henry V. After all, both the English and French crowns are supposed...

Gender

When Henry V affectionately calls his troops his "band of brothers," it's pretty clear that Shakespeare is mostly interested in male bonds – particularly the kinds of close-knit relationships tha...

Art and Culture

Henry V is one of Shakespeare's most self-conscious plays. Each time the Chorus steps out on stage to set the scene for us, we're asked to pardon the theater's inability to accurately portray histo...

Society and Class

In Henry V, Shakespeare knows that common soldiers experience war differently than the king and the nobility. After all, they're the ones who bear much of the burden of war and, if a battle is lost...

Memory and the Past

Because it's the final play in a four-play cycle, Henry V is always looking over its shoulder (into the historical past and also into the plays that have gone before it). At times, Shakespeare's ch...
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