Henry IV Part 2

From Hal to Harry: The Callousness of the Crown in Shakespeare’s Henry V College

Between the events of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V, King Harry evolves from a playful and wayward son into a celebrated political adept. He forfeits a life of tavern-hopping and petty larceny in favor of becoming one of the most revered kings and military tacticians in English (literary) history. Throughout Henry V, Shakespeare paints Harry as an affable king whose loyalty rests with the people of England; however, in his quest for redemption through the universal appeasement of his people—be they religious syndicates at the royal castle, squadrons of troops in the fields of Agincourt, or the common masses waiting at home—the emotions of individual characters are often abandoned in the wake of King Harry’s enterprise. Previous to and during the Battle of Agincourt, Harry is constantly at war with his own sensibilities, often choosing to neglect showing his emotions outwardly in fear that such a display might negatively impact the well being of his people.

Using both high rhetoric and hollow sensationalism, Harry consistently elevates the esteem of his soldiers while shielding his own emotions. The majority of Henry V takes places in France, where common soldiers are fighting a war that they don’t quite understand, so...

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