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Henry V

Henry V

Warfare Quotes Page 2

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

It is no time to discourse, so Chrish save me: the
day is hot, and the weather, and the wars, and the
king, and the dukes: it is no time to discourse. The
town is beseeched, and the trumpet call us to the
breach; and we talk, and, be Chrish, do nothing:
'tis shame for us all: so God sa' me, 'tis shame to
stand still; it is shame, by my hand: and there is
throats to be cut, and works to be done; and there
ish nothing done, so Chrish sa' me, la! (3.3.2)

Bardolph, Pistol, and Nim aren't the only ones who are reluctant to avoid the fighting. Here, three Captains (Fluellen, MacMorris, and Gower) stand around chitchatting about the art of war... while the other soldiers do all the dirty work of charging into the "breach." Even after MacMorris says it's a "shame" for them to be standing around instead of fighting, nobody does anything. So, what's the difference, if any, between Bardolph's low-life pals and the professional military captains we see here?

Quote #5

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' (3.1.1)

Like we said, Henry insists that God is on his side during his campaign against France, which makes it easy for him to justify the invasion. Here, he aligns himself ("Harry") with God and England's Patron Saint (George).

Quote #6

If I begin the battery once again,
I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
Till in her ashes she lie buried.
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.
What is it then to me, if impious war,
Array'd in flames like to the prince of fiends,
Do, with his smirch'd complexion, all fell feats
Enlink'd to waste and desolation?
What is't to me, when you yourselves are cause,
If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
What rein can hold licentious wickedness
When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
We may as bootless spend our vain command
Upon the enraged soldiers in their spoil
As send precepts to the leviathan
To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
Take pity of your town and of your people,
Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
O'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil and villany.
If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dash'd to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
Or, guilty in defense, be thus destroy'd? (3.3.1)

Here, King Henry V warns the Governor of Harfleur that if he doesn't surrender immediately, the English soldiers will probably rape the town's virgins, smash in the heads of old men, and impale all the newborns on spikes. What does this speech say about King Henry? For some, this speech is simply evidence that Henry is a brilliant military strategist and orator. By conjuring up images of horrific violence, Henry convinces the Governor to surrender and avoids more bloodshed in Harfleur.

For others, this speech speaks to the atrocities of war. According to actor/director Kenneth Branagh, Henry's "threatening speech to the Governor of Harfleur offers a graphic reminder of the violent reality of medieval warfare at its most desperate" (source). Branagh's take on this speech can be seen in his 1989 film adaptation of Henry V, which goes out of its way to portray the gritty realities of the Battle of Agincourt.

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