Henry V

Strawberries to Withered Flowers: Shakespeare’s Use of Garden Imagery to Define a King College

Throughout English history, kings have been judged by both their political strength and by their personal conduct. Each of these criteria is equally important in assessing the success or failure of a King’s reign. In William Shakespeare’s history plays, Shakespeare often uses imagery as a tool for comparing how successfully a king is running his government, describing the kingdom as either a managed or unkempt garden. The personality and political skill of a king determine whether the garden is in unruly or pristine condition, and this imagery plays a distinct role in defining a king’s true character. In The Life of Henry V and The Tragedy of King Richard II, Shakespeare uses garden imagery to reveal whether each king is keeping the State in order or not. Throughout each play, the imagery reveals how Henry's and Richard’s different political and personal approaches to ruling affect their leadership abilities, defining how the State should be run to achieve maximum success and marking the progression or decline of each king’s rule.

Henry V’s boisterous adolescence casts a shadow of doubt on his ability to rule his kingdom effectively and causes his character and personality to undergo scrutiny. When Ely discusses the days of...

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