Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Language and Communication

By William Shakespeare

Language and Communication

Henry VI, Part 1 is about battles, right? So who needs language and communication skills? Pretty much everybody, as it turns out. Language is a really important way that people exercise power in this play. Tough guy warriors like Talbot are also really skillful with language, and it's a major way that Joan persuades people to do what she wants. Also, speaking well is about all Henry VI does, except for being really nice and awfully naïve.

And other kinds of communication matter, too, like the symbolism of the roses (get thee to the "Symbols" section to read up on this). So as it turns out, it's hard to run a kingdom without communication.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Which characters succeed through language? Which characters don't?
  2. Choose two characters and explain how their language differs. Why might those differences matter in the play?
  3. What role does language play in resolving or feeding disputes? How does it interact with military power or physical strength?
  4. How do symbols like the red and white roses matter in the play? Do they do anything that language can't do on its own?

Chew on This

Joan's ability to persuade is her single most important source of power.

Speech is great and all, but ultimately—without might in the mix—it doesn't get anyone anywhere.

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