Henry V

King Henry’s Competence as a Ruler in Henry V

“King Henry’s Competence as a Ruler in Henry V

Often remembered for his wild and boyish characteristics, King Henry assures his fellow English and those who oppose him that he has evolved from Prince Hal into a competent king. Although some of Henry’s actions in battle carry immoral implications, he defines a “competent” king as one who fully exercises the responsibilities of a ruler, as seen by his response to the Dauphin’s claim that Henry is still only a youth. Henry’s composed demeanor and well-devised rhetoric when speaking to various characters reveals that he is confident in his abilities as a ruler. Therefore, Henry’s rhetoric serves to convince the other characters and the audience, rather than himself, that he is capable of holding the throne of England, as he has grown from his past as Prince Hal and will “show [his] sail of greatness” upon the “throne of France” (I.ii.275-276).

Upon receiving the Dauphin’s gift of tennis balls, which symbolizes Henry’s image as a mere sportsman without governing capability, Henry responds with clever and serious rhetoric. The Dauphin’s insults do not dismantle Henry’s demeanor, revealing just how much the English King has matured: Henry says that he is “glad the Dauphin is so...

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