Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Quotes

  • Politics

    BEDFORD
    King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long.
    England ne'er lost a king of so much worth. (1.1.6-7)

    Ouch. This is not a good way for a play to begin, with the death of a great hero. King Henry V conquered France for England, cut a kingly figure in spite of his youth, and was a great orator to boot. No wonder Bedford is so sad about his death. King Henry VI, who this play is about, has a lot to live up to.

    WARWICK
    And here I prophesy: this brawl today,
    Grown to this faction in the Temple garden,
    Shall send, between the red rose and the white,
    A thousand souls to death and deadly night. (2.4.125-128)

    When you're right, you're right. And unfortunately, Warwick is right here. In the play, the red and white roses symbolize the houses of Lancaster and York (more on this over in the "Symbols" section). The fact that Richard (about to be made Duke of York) and the others have been arguing about them points to the fact that soon there will be a bloody civil war between the two. It may not be obvious yet, it's totally coming.

    PLANTAGENET
    I dare say
    This quarrel will drink blood another day. (2.4.134-135)

    After the quarrel that involves choosing sides by plucking roses, Richard predicts that the quarrel will cause more trouble, maybe even bloodshed, some other day. Quarrels between nobles cause a huge number of deaths in Henry VI, and that's just the beginning—the civil war that follows after this play's timescale ends will cause even more.

    MORTIMER
    Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
    Before whose glory I was great in arms,
    This loathsome sequestration have I had;
    And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
    Deprived of honor and inheritance. (2.5.23-27)

    Every story has a backstory, and the Wars of the Roses have a heck of a backstory. There's a lot of backstabbing, quarreling, and fighting over who's the rightful heir to the throne, and it goes back a long way. Mortimer laments that he and Richard have had it tough since the beginning of Henry V's reign. We later find out it goes even further back, to Henry V's dad Henry IV, who Mortimer says shoved his nephew (also named Richard) off the throne (2.5.61-69).

    GLOUCESTER
    No, prelate, such is thy audacious wickedness,
    Thy lewd, pestiferous, and dissentious pranks,
    As very infants prattle of thy pride.
    Thou are a most pernicious usurer,
    Froward by nature, enemy to peace,
    Lascivious, wanton, more than well beseems
    A man of thy profession and degree. (3.1.15-21)

    Whew—Gloucester sure has it in for Winchester. He accuses him of just about everything bad he can think of, from being proud to hating peace to being lustful (especially bad since Winchester is a member of the Catholic clergy and is supposed to be celibate). But the really scary part is that Gloucester is the more reasonable one in the quarrel between Gloucester and Winchester. If this is how the rational guy talks, you can see how bad it's gotten.

    KING HENRY
    Uncles of Gloucester and of Winchester,
    The special watchmen of our English weal,
    I would prevail, if prayers might prevail,
    To join your hearts in love and amity.
    O what a scandal is it to our crown
    That two such noble peers as ye should jar!
    Believe me, lords, my tender years can tell
    Civil dissension is a viperous worm,
    That gnaws the bowels of the commonwealth. (3.1.69-77)

    This little speech shows so much of what's good about Henry VI—and so much of what's going to make it tough for him to be a good king. He's pretty decent at speeches, and he seems goodhearted enough. He wants to make peace, and he's very polite in asking his uncles to be pals again. But he is of "tender years," as he admits in the speech, and it's going to be hard for his uncles to take him seriously as the king.

    And even though he's a nice guy, he's not really a man of prompt action. The "noise within" is Gloucester and Winchester's men starting to fight each other in the streets, so Henry could be doing a better job of enforcing the peace he pleads for. Later in the scene, he needs the help of others to calm the rioting down—which is decidedly not so kingly.

    EXETER
    Ay, we may march in England or in France,
    Not seeing what is likely to ensue.
    This late dissension grown betwixt the peers
    Burns under feignèd ashes of forged love
    And will at last break out into a flame.
    As festered members rot but by degree
    Till bones and flesh and sinews fall away,
    So will this base and envious discord breed. (3.1.196-203)

    Exeter's worries are all too accurate. He thinks that the lords of England (peers) aren't really getting along, even if they pretend to, and he thinks that tension will be disastrous, like smoldering embers turning into a forest fire or a festering wound rotting away someone's body. Sad to say, he has a much better grip on what's happening than King Henry.

    EXETER
    But howsoe'er, no simple man that sees
    This jarring discord of nobility,
    This shouldering of each other in the court,
    This factious bandying of their favorites,
    But that it doth presage some ill event.
    'Tis much when scepters are in children's hands,
    But more when envy breeds unkind division:
    There comes the ruin; there begins confusion. (4.1.188-195)

    Exeter's still worried, and his worries are still unfortunately dead on. He says that it's harder to keep a kingdom running when the King is a child, but that's not the real problem. The real problem is the envy among the lords and the strife it's causing. Could the Kingdom be working okay under Henry VI if it weren't for all these quarreling nobles?

    LUCY
    Thus, while the vulture of sedition
    Feeds in the bosom of such great commanders,
    Sleeping neglection doth betray to loss
    The conquest of our scarce-cold conqueror,
    That ever-living man of memory,
    Henry the Fifth. Whiles they each other cross,
    Lives, honors, lands, and all hurry to loss. (4.3.48-54)

    Here, Sir William Lucy agrees with Exeter. If the nobles would just stop feuding (ahem York and Somerset), England could win against the French. How is the arguing of the nobles like a vulture, eating things away?

    YORK
    Is all our travail turned to this effect?
    After the slaughter of so many peers,
    So many captains, gentlemen and soldiers
    That in this quarrel have been overthrown
    And sold their bodies for their country's benefit,
    Shall we at last conclude effeminate peace? (5.3.103-108)

    Guess what? Upon hearing news of a peace treaty, York wants to keep fighting. But would that be better for England? Or is peace a better call, especially since it's not clear the nobles can work together?

    SUFFOLK
    Thus Suffolk hath prevailed, and thus he goes,
    As did the youthful Paris once to Greece,
    With hope to find the like event in love,
    But prosper better than the Trojan did.
    Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the King,
    But I will rule both her, the King and realm. (5.4.103-108)

    Why is this quote on love in our politics section? Because Suffolk is interested in a lot more than love, and because it says something really interesting about the play: Suffolk is infatuated with Margaret, but he's also hoping to use her to influence the king so that he can gain more political power.

  • Power

    GLOUCESTER
    England ne'er had a king until his time.
    Virtue he had, deserving to command;
    His brandished sword did blind men with his beams;
    His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;
    His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
    More dazzled and drove back his enemies (1.1.8-13)

    Talk about military power—to hear Gloucester tell it, Henry V sounds like the scariest dude ever. Obviously, this gained the respect of his nobles, though it also leaves his infant son with an uphill battle when it comes to earning their respect as well.

    WINCHESTER
    He was a king blest of the King of kings;
    Unto the French the dreadful Judgement Day
    So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
    The battles of the Lord of Hosts he fought;
    The Church's prayers made him so prosperous. (1.1.28-32)

    The play shows that we can't trust Winchester completely, and this seems a little over the top—Henry was scarier than Judgment Day? Seems unlikely. But this speech does show something about the kind of supernatural power kings were expected to have. The nobles want to feel like God is on the side of their king.

    BASTARD
    A holy maid hither with me I bring,
    Which by a vision sent to her from heaven
    Ordainèd is to raise this tedious siege
    And drive the English forth the bounds of France.
    The spirit of deep prophecy she hath, (1.2.51-55)

    The English aren't the only ones who want God on their side. The French think Joan of Arc is blessed by God with the ability to prophesy or predict the future, and they also think God will help her as she chases the English away by military might. In this play, people often expect military power and supernatural power to go together.

    CHARLES
    Stay, stay thy hands! Thou art an Amazon,
    And fightest with the sword of Deborah. (1.2.106-107)

    More proof that Joan has military power: She impresses Charles with her fighting ability so much that he compares her to Deborah, a female judge who helped the Israelites win a major battle, and to an Amazon (a female warrior in classical mythology).

    GLOUCESTER
    Who willed you? Or whose will stands but mine?
    There's none Protector of the realm, but I. (1.3.11-12)

    This short quote shows a lot about the power dynamics going on in English politics in this play. Gloucester is Protector of the realm, which means he's basically ruling until young King Henry VI is old enough to take the throne. He's not afraid to use his power, as he does here, but he also takes pretty good care of Henry and probably has his best interests at heart. At the same time, he wrangles a lot with Winchester, who resents his power and would probably like to get more power himself. Yep, it's a complicated political situation.

    PUCELLE
    Wherefore is Charles impatient with his friend?
    At all times will you have my power alike? (2.1.57-58)

    Joan seems to have some sort of supernatural power, or at least she's claiming to. But sometimes she seems to have more of it and others less. Does this mean her power is made up? Or that it's from demons who can't be trusted? Or that it's from God, but it's not always His will to make her succeed? So many questions, so few answers.

    WARWICK
    My lord of York, I promise you the King
    Prettily, methought, did play the orator. (4.1.175-176)

    The King does have some rhetorical power—which is a good thing—but it's hard not to compare him with his father, who gave the famous "band of brothers" speech and conquered France.

    TALBOT
    ...this arm, that hath reclaimed
    To your obedience fifty fortresses,
    Twelve cities and seven walled towns of strength,
    Beside five hundred prisoners of esteem,
    Lets fall his sword before your Highness' feet, (3.4.5-9)

    Wow—Talbot definitely has military power. More than his boss, maybe? Fortunately for Henry, Talbot is very loyal. He'd have trouble on his hands if Talbot weren't.

    PUCELLE
    See, they [the demons Joan has called on] forsake me. Now the time is come
    That France must vail her lofty-plumèd crest
    And let her head fall into England's lap.
    My ancient incantations are too weak,
    And hell too strong for me to buckle with.
    Now, France, thy glory droopeth to the dust. (5.3.25-29)

    Looks like Joan may have been getting supernatural power from demons and not God after all. Either way, it seems pretty clear that Joan thinks supernatural power matters to political power—she thinks if the demons would help her, she could do more for France.

    SUFFOLK
    Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the King,
    But I will rule both her, the King, and realm. (5.5.107-108)

    The play ends with a nobleman scheming to exercise power behind the scenes—not the greatest of signs. So often in the play, Henry VI hasn't exercised much power, which leaves us worried that Suffolk's plan just may prove successful.

  • Society and Class

    WINCHESTER
    Each hath his place and function to attend.
    I am left out; for me nothing remains.
    But long I will not be Jack-out-of-office.
    The King from Eltham I intend to steal,
    And sit at chiefest stern of public weal. (1.1.176-180)

    Whew—not all is well with the in crowd. Winchester's pretty annoyed that he didn't get any jobs for taking care of the young king. He's plotting to get more power, though. Fortunately he doesn't succeed in kidnapping the king, but you can see how much he wants to be one of the cool kids.

    PUCELLE
    Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd's daughter,
    My wit untrained in any kind of art.
    Heaven and Our Lady gracious hath it pleased
    To shine on my contemptible estate. (1.2.73-76)

    Joan's explaining here why the clique should take her seriously. Yes, she says, she's not part of the aristocracy. But she says that God and the Virgin Mary ("Our Lady") have favored her. She may not be part of the club yet, but she claims to have supernatural power—which the French could use, especially since they've just lost a battle to the English in this scene.

    SOMERSET
    Was not thy father Richard, Earl of Cambridge,
    For treason executed in our late king's days?
    And, by his treason, stand'st not thou attainted,
    Corrupted, and exempt from ancient gentry?
    His trespass yet lives guilty in thy blood,
    And till thou be restored thou art a yeoman. (2.4.91-96)

    Like any clique, the aristocracy sometimes kicks people out, and when it does, it isn't pretty. Richard's father was executed for treason, so his title and property can't pass to Richard. This is reversible, but it takes an act of Parliament a bit later in the play for Richard to get the family title back, and in the meantime, he's the target of jokes from Somerset, who's well established in the aristocracy.

    KING HENRY
    Rise, Richard, like a true Plantagenet,
    And rise created princely Duke of York. (3.1.181-182)

    The clique can be nice if they want to. The King is especially nice, actually—he seems genuinely happy to welcome Richard back to the title.

    KING HENRY
    Therefore stand up; and for these good deserts
    We here create you Earl of Shrewsbury;
    And in our coronation take your place. (3.4.25-27)

    Military power and loyalty sometimes translates to a higher standing in society. Lord Talbot was already a member of the aristocracy, but he gets another title for his faithful fighting for the crown. It's sort of like going from Jedi Knight to member of the Jedi Council.

    TALBOT:
    I vowed, base knight, when I did meet thee next,
    To tear the Garter from thy craven's leg,
                                                                       (tearing it off)
    Which I have done, because unworthily
    Thou wast installed in that high degree.— (4.1.14-17)

    The knights of the Garter are a special kind of knight, and Talbot says they originally had to be part of the aristocracy, as well as courageous and virtuous (4.1.33-35). Talbot says Fastolfe is a coward or "craven" and doesn't deserve to wear the garter, and King Henry VI, usually a gentle type, sends Fastolfe packing after what Talbot says (4.1.46). Titles don't count for everything, even to the aristocracy. You need to have courage to back it up, at least some of the time.

    EXETER
    But howsoe'er, no simple man that sees
    This jarring discord of nobility,
    This shouldering of each other in the court,
    This factious bandying of their favorites,
    But that it doth presage some ill event. (4.1.188-192)

    It's hard to get respect from other people if your pals are fighting in public. Exeter is afraid that if the nobility can't unite, they won't be able to impress others, not even a "simple man." That's a problem, because if the English people and their French enemies don't see a united front from the aristocracy, things aren't going to go well.

    WINCHESTER
    Now Winchester will not submit, I trow,
    Or be inferior to the proudest peer.
    Humphrey of Gloucester, thou shalt well perceive
    That neither in birth or for authority
    The Bishop will be overborne by thee. (5.1.56-60)

    In the time period, the Catholic Church was a major political force, often more powerful than whole countries. It was also seen as having the supernatural power to win God's favor, so the combination was a strong one. That's why Winchester says being a cardinal will give him more status in society.

    PUCELLE
    Decrepit miser, base ignoble wretch!
    I am descended of a gentler blood.
    Thou art no father nor no friend of mine. (5.4.7-9)

    Joan is now claiming that she's not a shepherd's daughter, but is instead from a higher place in society. Why do you think she wants to be identified with noble birth? Is it spending time with the nobility and seeing how easily nobles gain respect in the society around her? What's at stake for her?

    GLOUCESTER
    Her [Margaret's] father is no better than an earl,
    Although in glorious titles he excel. (5.5.37-38)

    Titles do count for a lot to the nobles, but they're pretty sharp when it comes to seeing whether a title is hollow. They know who actually has power and wealth, and most of them don't want Henry to marry someone who doesn't.

  • Religion

    WINCHESTER
    He was a king blest of the King of kings;
    Unto the French the dreadful Judgement Day
    So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
    The battles of the Lord of Hosts he fought;
    The Church's prayers made him so prosperous. (1.1.28-32)

    Winchester's a clergyman in the Catholic Church, so he has even more of a reason than most of them to claim that God was on Henry V's side. But he's also probably exaggerating. The quote, however, shows how much people in the era wanted God to favor their rulers.

    BASTARD
    A holy maid hither with me I bring,
    Which by a vision sent to her from heaven,
    Ordained is to raise this tedious siege
    And drive the English forth the bounds of France.
    The spirit of deep prophecy she hath, (1.2.51-55)

    This guy, an important French leader, thinks Joan has what it takes to be a Jedi. He says she can prophesy the future, and assumes that her power is given to her by God. Throughout most of the play, there's a question hanging: Is Joan actually given power by God, as the French claim? Or is she getting it from the devil, as the English say? Or, as Shmoop would like to add, is she just a pretty clever lady who knows how to work people?

    PUCELLE
    Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,
    And to sun's parching heat displayed my cheeks,
    God's mother deignèd to appear to me,
    And in a vision full of majesty
    Willed me to leave my base vocation
    And free my country from calamity.
    Her aid she promised and assured success.
    In complete glory she revealed herself; (1.2.77-84)

    This is a perfect example of something Protestants and Catholics would interpret differently. Catholics would take an appearance of the Virgin Mary to be totally legit, like Yoda saying Luke has what it takes to make a Jedi knight. Protestants, though, who were less interested in talking to the saints and more interested in talking to God directly, would be very suspicious. They'd likely think it was a demon pretending to be Mary in order to trick people. And since the play's main audience was Protestant, they'd be wondering about Joan just about now.

    CHARLES
    No longer on Saint Denis will we cry,
    But Joan la Pucelle shall be France's saint.
    Come in, and let us banquet royally
    After this golden day of victory. (1.6.28-31)

    Charles thinks Joan is the real thing—he even wants to replace Saint Denis, a traditional patron saint of France, with Joan. But is his read on her correct? Over to you, Shmoopers.

    BEDFORD
    Coward of France, how much he wrongs his fame,
    Despairing of his own arms' fortitude,
    To join with witches and the help of hell! (2.1.17-19)

    Bedford's in no doubt: He thinks Joan is a witch, getting her power from the devil and his demons. In the time period, witches and magic were seen as less Harry Potter and more Darth Sidious. But does the play give an answer as to whether Joan is one? It's not that clear yet.

    TALBOT
    Well, let them practice and converse with spirits.
    God is our fortress, in whose conquering name
    Let us resolve to scale their flinty bulwarks. (2.1.27-29)

    Talbot's not too worried. Is this because he's naturally brave, or because he really does think God is on the English side? Or both?

    GLOUCESTER
    Am I not Protector, saucy priest?
    WINCHESTER
    And am not I a prelate of the Church?
    GLOUCESTER
    Yes, as an outlaw in a castle keeps,
    And useth it to patronage his theft. (3.1.47-50)

    The church may have been spiritually and politically powerful, but that doesn't keep Gloucester from arguing with Winchester. The whole way through the play, the two men are tussling over who has the most power, Gloucester as the Protector guiding England till the King is of age, or Winchester as a high official in the Church. Gloucester doesn't attack the Church itself, but he frequently accuses Winchester of being a bad representative of the Church.

    TALBOT
    Foul fiend of France and hag of all despite,
    Encompassed with thy lustful paramours,
    Becomes it thee to taunt his valiant age
    And twit with cowardice a man half dead? (3.2.52-55)

    Talbot thinks Joan is not just a witch but sexually loose as well. This matters partly because she claims to be blessed by the Virgin Mary. It's unlikely that the Virgin mother of Christ is going to help someone who's sleeping around, so if Talbot is right about Joan's loose morals he's probably right about her getting her power from demons, too. Of course, he doesn't offer any proof here.

    KING HENRY
    I shall be well content with any choice
    Tends to God's glory and my country's weal. (5.1.26-27)

    Henry seems pretty sincere about this. He wants to please God and take good care of his country, both things considered duties of a king at the time. But doesn't it seem a little odd that this is his big comment on getting married? Marriage for a king in the time wasn't just a personal decision; it had major political implications, so it seems like he should feel a bit more strongly about whether it's the right girl politically or not.

    PUCELLE
    Now help, you charming spells and periapts,
    And you choice spirits that admonish me,
    And give me signs of future accidents.
    You speedy helpers, that are substitutes
    Under the lordly monarch of the north,
    Appear, and aid me in this enterprise. (5.3.2-7)

    Through most of the play, it hasn't been clear if Joan is a witch or a saint. Here she calls on demons, and they appear. But when the spirits turn up, they refuse to help her. So maybe she isn't so close to them after all? Either way, the play's audience would see calling on them as a sign that she can't be trusted. Calling on demons = shady.

  • Gender

    GLOUCESTER
    England ne'er had a king until his time.
    Virtue he had, deserving to command;
    His brandished sword did blind men with his beams;
    His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;
    His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
    More dazzled and drove back his enemies
    Than midday sun fierce bent against their faces. (1.1.8-14)

    Yep, Henry V sounds sort of like Thor, Braveheart, and Aragorn, all rolled into one. No doubts about his manly man status. England should be safe with him on the throne. Except he's just died. So that's a bit of a problem.

    BEDFORD
    Let's to the altar.—Heralds wait on us.—
    Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms,
    Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.
    Posterity, await for wretched years
    When at their mothers' moistened eyes babes shall
       suck,
    Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,
    And none but women left to wail the dead. (1.1.45-52)

    Bedford says there really isn't any point in fighting if Henry's not there to lead them, and also that there won't be any men left in England, just women weeping over all the dead. Bedford's prediction underlines the nobles' fear that only a stereotypically macho man can protect the kingdom, and things will go badly now that Henry V is dead.

    Shmoop isn't endorsing Bedford's view of women here—but he does have a point that England could be in trouble. The death of a strong and charismatic leader is pretty bad news, especially when his successor is literally a baby.

    CHARLES
    Mars his true moving, even as in the heavens
    So in the Earth, to this day is not known.
    Late did he shine upon the English side;
    Now we are victors; upon us he smiles.
    What towns of any moment but we have?
    At pleasure here we lie near Orleance.
    Otherwhiles, the famished English, like pale ghosts,
    Faintly besiege us one hour in a month. (1.2.1-8)

    Mars is as macho as it gets—he's the god of war in the Greek pantheon—so when Charles says Mars is on their side, he's pretty happy about how the French are doing. He even compares the English to ghosts. Which, you know, may be a little premature.

    CHARLES
    Who ever saw the like? What men have I!
    Dogs, cowards, dastards! I would ne'er have fled
    But that they left me midst my enemies.
    REIGNIER
    Salisbury is a desperate homicide.
    He fighteth as one weary of his life.
    The other lords, like lions wanting food,
    Do rush upon us as their hungry prey. (1.2.22-28)

    Guess the French aren't so Mars-like after all… Just after Charles has been bragging about the French and comparing the English to ghosts, the English have whipped them badly on the battlefield. It's even more embarrassing because Charles was literally just boasting that he'd rather die than retreat (1.2.20-21). Oops.

    CHARLES
    Stay, stay thy hands! Thou art an Amazon,
    And fightest with the sword of Deborah. (1.2.106-107)

    Charles is impressed. But in praising Joan this way, he might be accidentally implying that he's a sissy. Deborah is a great biblical hero, but Barak, the male commander she works with, is a little less impressive.

    When God tells Barak to go out and fight the enemy, he says he'll only go if Deborah goes with him. She says that's fine, but then the glory will go to a woman, which it totally does when a woman named Jael pounds a tent peg through the head of the bad guy later in the story. Which leaves us with one question: Do you think Charles knows he's implying this? Or is he so caught up with Joan that he fails to recognize all the implications of his comparison?

    REIGNIER
    My lord, methinks, is very long in talk.
    ALANSON
    Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock,
    Else ne'er could he so long protract his speech.
    REIGNIER
    Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean?
    ALANSON
    He may mean more than we poor men do know.
    These women are shrewd tempters with their
    tongues. (1.2.120-126)

    Charles is speaking alone with Joan during this conversation, and Reignier and Alencon aren't just bored while waiting—they're also making subtle jokes suggesting that Charles and Joan might be exploring sexual territory together. Though Joan has just turned down the Dauphin's romantic advances (1.2.113-116), both the French and English continue to hint at a possible sexual relationship between Joan and the Dauphin, and the play leaves the question open. How it's performed makes a big difference to how the audience sees it.

    TALBOT
    Where is my strength, my valor and my force?
    Our English troops retire; I cannot stay them.
    A woman clad in armor chaseth them. (1.5.1-3)

    Talbot's awesome on his own, but he also cares a lot about his troops, so it's probably burning him up that they're losing to a woman—he's courteous to ladies, but he probably isn't so keen on gender equality in battle.

    TALBOT
    Heavens, can you suffer hell so to prevail?
    My breast I'll burst with straining of my courage,
    And from my shoulders crack my arms asunder,
    But I will chastise this high-minded strumpet. (1.5.9-12)

    Talbot calls Joan a strumpet, or prostitute, while fighting her. Since it doesn't seem like beating up a man in battle and taking up prostitution are very similar, the only reason for the comparison that we can think of is that Talbot may think they're both examples of a woman straying from her proper place in society.

    COUNTESS
    The plot is laid. If all things fall out right,
    I shall as famous be by this exploit
    As Scythian Tamyris by Cyrus' death. (2.3.4-6)

    Joan isn't the only woman who wants to conquer the men by violence, apparently. The Countess of Auvergne is plotting to do something to Talbot, and the person she wants to be like is Tomyris. Tomyris defeated the famous King Cyrus in battle and then majorly insulted his corpse. The Countess sounds pretty kick butt, yet by the end of the scene she's apologizing to Talbot and feeding him a banquet. So much for girl power—and perhaps a bit of foreshadowing about Joan's eventual defeat.

    GLOUCESTER
    The Earl of Armagnac, near knit to Charles,
    A man of great authority in France,
    Proffers his only daughter to your grace
    In marriage, with a large and sumptuous dowry. (5.1.17-20)

    Speaking to Henry about marriage, it's clear here that gender is also politically important in making alliances. It's easier to get a peace treaty to stick if the king marries a noblewoman from the other side. While it's not the greatest for the women involved—who wants to be a living symbol of a treaty?—it does give women some sort of political role that they might not have otherwise.

  • Patriotism

    EXETER
    Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn:
    Either to quell the Dauphin utterly
    Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.
    BEDFORD
    I do remember it, and here take my leave
    To go about my preparation.
    GLOCUESTER
    I'll to the Tower with all the haste I can
    To view th' artillery and munition,
    And then I will proclaim young Henry king. (1.1.165-172)

    For these lords at present, patriotism means doing what they can to establish the young King Henry VI and preserve his father's memory. It's a long time until Henry VI can be an effective king, but the nobles are going to try to aid his kingdom in the meantime. At least, some of them are anyway… Winchester seems to be plotting already, if you glance ahead to the end of the scene (1.1.173-177).

    BEDFORD
    Henry the Fifth, thy ghost I invocate:
    Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils,
    Combat with adverse planets in the heavens. (1.1.53-55)

    Bedford cares about England and wants it to prosper, but he doesn't have the greatest plan for that, at least not yet. The best he can do so far is to call on Henry V's ghost. Worrying, especially since the next thing that happens is that a messenger arrives to say the French are rebelling.

    MESSENGER
    Awake, awake, English nobility!
    Let not sloth dim your honors new begot.
    Cropped are the flower-de-luces in your arms;
    Of England's coat, one half is cut away. (1.1.80-83)

    For this messenger, being patriotic means warning the English nobility about what's happening in France and encouraging them to get cracking. The play suggests that's a good idea for a patriot, but it's a little unclear on how to do it.

    PUCELLE
    God's mother deignèd to appear to me,
    And, in a vision full of majesty
    Willed me to leave my base vocation
    And free my country from calamity.
    Her aid she promised and assured success.
    In complete glory she revealed herself; (1.2.79-84)

    Joan's saddling up her horse and charging out to save France. For her, patriotism seems to mean kicking the English out.

    TALBOT
    They called us, for our fierceness, English dogs;
    Now like to whelps we crying run away.
    Hark, countrymen, either renew the fight,
    Or tear the lions out of England's coat. (1.5.25-28)

    For Talbot, patriotism involves kicking butt. It's not just that, though. It's also living up to a certain expectation about what it means to be English, and being as brave as the lions on England's coat of arms.

    TALBOT
    Now, Salisbury, for thee and for the right
    Of English Henry, shall this night appear
    How much in duty I am bound to both. (2.1.38-40)

    For Talbot, loyalty to country also includes loyalty to one's fellow fighting men, which is why he's so keen to avenge Salisbury's death. And it also includes honoring the King, which is why he speaks of "English Henry." He doesn't say which Henry. Is he promising loyalty to Henry VI, or fondly remembering Henry V? Perhaps both?

    MORTIMER
    Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
    Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward's son,
    The first begotten and the lawful heir
    Of Edward king, the third of that descent; (2.5.63-66)

    Uh oh… If patriotism means loyalty to the king, where are we now? The present king might be descended from a guy who cut in line to get to the kingship. So is he really the rightful king? And if he's not, who should people be loyal to? Maybe Mortimer's heir, who turns out to be Richard. Cue the frenetic violins, people. This is major, as you already know if you've been reading Shakespeare's other history plays.

    WINCHESTER
    He [Gloucester] shall submit, or I will never yield.
    GLOUCESTER
    Compassion on the King commands me stoop,
    Or I would see his [Winchester's] heart out ere the priest [Winchester]
    Should ever get that privilege of me. (3.1.125-128)

    Winchester and Gloucester are always accusing each other of being too ambitious and wanting the throne. Gloucester may enjoy being Lord Protector and running things, but in the end he probably does care about Henry VI. We can see that here because he backs down from the quarrel to please the king. Winchester, however, is much slower to do so in the rest of the scene, probably because he actually is too ambitious.

    PUCELLE
    Look on thy country, look on fertile France,
    And see the cities and the towns defaced
    By wasting ruin of the cruel foe.
    As looks the mother on her lowly babe
    When death doth close his tender-dying eyes.
    […]
    O, turn thy edged sword another way;
    Strike those that hurt, and hurt not those that help.
    One drop of blood drawn from thy country's bosom
    Should grieve thee more than streams of foreign gore. (3.3.44-48, 52-55 )

    Here Joan describes patriotism as being about the land and people of France, rather than loyalty to a king or to comrades in arms. Burgundy was loyal up until now to Henry VI and to his pals in the English army, but Joan says he should think about the land of France itself. It's hard to tell for sure since she's trying to get Burgundy to swap sides, but this may be Joan's actual view of patriotism, given how often she talks about France.

    PUCELLE
    Then take my soul—my body, soul, and all—
    Before that England give the French the foil. (5.3.22-23)

    Wow—Joan is risking everything here as she calls upon the demons. We bet Charles isn't out their promising to give up his soul if France can win the battle. Is Joan one of the most patriotic characters in this play? Note: Shmoop does not recommend entering into contracts with vastly powerful, evil supernatural beings. It usually doesn't go well.

  • Memory and the Past

    GLOUCESTER
    What should I say? His deeds exceed all speech.
    He ne'er lift up his hand but conquerèd. (1.1.15-16)

    Well the English sure have some awesome memories of the recent past—it sounds like Henry V was amazing. Is the past going to encourage the English to great deeds, though, or make them feel stuck, like they can never get anywhere?

    EXETER
    We mourn in black, why mourn we not in blood?
    Henry is dead and never shall revive.
    Upon a wooden coffin we attend,
    And death's dishonorable victory
    We with our stately presence glorify,
    Like captives bound to a triumphant car. (1.1.17-22)

    Memory may not be so great for the English after all. If all they've got is the memory of Henry V, they're kind of in trouble, like prisoners of war being hauled along by Death.

    GLOUCESTER
    Cardinal, I'll be no breaker of the law,
    But we shall meet and break our minds at large.
    WINCHESTER
    Gloucester, we'll meet to thy cost, be sure.
    Thy heart-blood I will have for this day's work. (1.3.80-83)

    Long memories among the aristocracy are also a problem because they keep quarreling with each other. Forgive and forget does not seem to be a popular plan, and both Gloucester and Winchester predict this quarrel coming up again. If this were an idle threat, it would be fine, but it's all too real.

    TALBOT
    They called us, for our fierceness, English dogs;
    Now like to whelps we crying run away.
    Hark, countrymen, either renew the fight,
    Or tear the lions out of England's coat. (1.5.25-28)

    Talbot is remembering the past here, perhaps through rose-colored glasses. In Talbot's case, all the remembering is more useful than it is for some of the other English leaders, though, since he uses memory to encourage his men to fight harder.

    CHARLES
    In memory of her [Joan], when she is dead,
    Her ashes, in an urn more precious
    Than the rich-jewelled coffer of Darius,
    Transported shall be at high festivals
    Before the kings and queens of France. (1.6.23-27)

    The hope of being remembered as victorious and strong matters in this play, as well as the actual memories that are conjured. Would Joan like to be remembered with the same kind of lofty language the play uses for Henry V? Seems likely. Though you've got to wonder if she's happy about the Dauphin mentioning her death right after one of her victories. Seems a little morbid.

    RICHARD
    I dare say
    This quarrel will drink blood another day. (2.4.134-135)

    Another unfortunate case of the aristocracy remembering more than it should. Richard expects that the quarrel between him and Somerset will continue because of their long memories. Unfortunately, this is totally true.

    MORTIMER
    Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this King,
    Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward's son,
    The first begotten and the lawful heir
    Of Edward king, the third of that descent;
    During whose reign the Percies of the north,
    Finding his usurpation most unjust,
    Endeavored my advancement to the throne. (2.5.63-69)

    Mortimer has to go three kings back to tell his story, but he sure hasn't forgotten. In fairness, he's been in prison a long time for trying to become king, which would probably give anyone a long memory. But his story of the past clearly haunts the present. If the current king's family got the throne unlawfully, there are implications for his right to rule.

    PLANTAGENET
    Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast,
    And what I do imagine, let that rest.— (2.5.118-119)

    Richard also plans to remember what Mortimer has said about the crown. What is he imagining here, anyway? Is he already thinking he might want the kingdom for himself some day? Memory can be pretty dangerous.

    GLOUCESTER
    Think not, although in writing I preferred
    The manner of thy vile outrageous crimes,
    That therefore I have forged or am not able
    Verbatim to rehearse the method of my pen. (3.1.11-14)

    Apparently Gloucester remembers everything he has against Winchester, without having to write it down (though he did for Parliament's convenience). Winchester doesn't appear to have any trouble recalling the past either. These two just do not let things go.

    SOMERSET
    If he be dead, brave Talbot, then adieu.
    LUCY
    His fame lives in the world, his shame in you. (4.4.45-46)

    Because York and Somerset can't forget their quarrel, they don't get aid to Talbot in time. This is no small thing: It leads to the death of Talbot and his son, both of whom might have made a major difference to the English military for years to come. Sir William Lucy points out the dark twist of the situation: Talbot's name will live on in positive memory, but Somerset will be remembered for failing Talbot. All because he couldn't forget a quarrel.

  • Language and Communication

    GLOUCESTER
    What should I say? His deeds exceed all speech.
    He ne'er lift up his hand but conquerèd. (1.1.15-16)

    Gloucester says that speech can't explain everything Henry V did, and he's right. But speech is more important than Gloucester's letting on—after all, he's bothered giving a speech despite noting speech's limitations, so it must be good for something.

    CHARLES
    At pleasure here we lie, near Orleance.
    Otherwhiles, the famished English, like pale ghosts,
    Faintly besiege us one hour in a month. (1.2.6-8)

    Charles is not only conquering towns, he's also pretty good with the language of war. Who wouldn't want to follow someone who's got Mars on his side? Too bad he goes on to lose a battle right after this beautiful speech.

    CHARLES
    Whoe'er helps thee, 'tis thou that must help me.
    Impatiently I burn with thy desire.
    My heart and hands thou hast at once subdued.
    Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so,
    Let me thy servant and not sovereign be.
    'Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus. (1.2.109-114)

    Well, Charles may not be as much of a fighter as he'd hoped, but he sure sounds good when he's asking someone out. His flowery language is an important part of his character. Of course, he shortly seems fickle when Joan doesn't succeed (2.1.50-53), so maybe his language of love is a bit hollow, like his war rhetoric.

    PLANTAGENET
    Since you are tongue-tied and so loath to speak,
    In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts:
    Let him that is a true-born gentleman
    And stands upon the honor of his birth,
    If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
    From off this briar pluck a white rose with me. (2.4.25-30)

    Richard is a talented communicator, and he finds a way of convincing the people present to show their support for him that is richly symbolic even though it doesn't require words. And incidentally, he manages to get words of support out of them, too.

    RICHARD
    Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset?
    SOMERSET
    Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet? (2.4.69-70)

    Pretty snappy, right? Richard's good with words when he wants to be. And Somerset's not bad here, either. They sound a bit like Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, bickering away. Too bad they don't have a friendship like Holmes and Watson to match…

    THE KING
    Uncles of Gloucester and of Winchester,
    The special watchmen of our English weal,
    I would prevail, if prayers might prevail,
    To join your hearts in love and amity.
    O what a scandal is it to our crown
    That two such noble peers as ye should jar! (3.1.69-74)

    Henry V was a great speechmaker, and his young son looks promising, too. He addresses both the quarreling nobles as "uncle," reminding them of their ties to him, and he slips in a smooth compliment on how they're special protectors of England's good. Then he asks them very graciously if he can convince them to get along. Nice to know he may be inheriting some of Henry V's talents. If only that extended to dominating the battlefield, the English nobles would be a lot happier.

    PUCELLE
    Dismay not, princes, at this accident,
    Nor grieve that Roan is so recoverèd.
    Care is no cure, but rather corrosive
    For things that are not to be remedied.
    Let frantic Talbot triumph for a while,
    And like a peacock sweep along his tail;
    We'll pull his plumes and take away his train,
    If Dauphin and the rest will be but ruled. (3.3.1-8)

    Henry VI has competition in the rhetoric department. Joan gives a nice speech, complete with alliteration ("Care is no cure, but rather corrosive"), simile ("like a peacock"), and a promise of success. You go, girl.

    BURGUNDY
    I am vanquished. These haughty words of hers
    Have battered me like roaring cannon-shot,
    And made me almost yield upon my knees.— (3.3.78-80)

    The tongue is mightier than the sword—or at least Joan's is. She's able to sway a fighting man like Burgundy to join her side; attacking him with weapons would hardly have done that. Her speech is a classic tearjerker, and it works on Burgundy.

    WARWICK
    My lord of York, I promise you the King
    Prettily, methought, did play the orator.
    YORK
    And so he did, but yet I like it not
    In that he wears the badge of Somerset. (4.1.175-178)

    Oh boy… Warwick and York both agree the king's pretty good with words, but he just made a major symbolic blooper. You can't wear the badge of one side in a quarrel without making the other side upset, no matter how much you say you're not taking sides. Guess rhetoric isn't everything: You need good judgment, too.