Leadership in William Shakespeare's Henry V

3282 Words14 Pages
Leadership in William Shakespeare's Henry V

At the time when "Henry V" was written in 1599, Englandwas in chaos,

facing many dilemmas. The country was coming to the end of the

Elizabethan era. Queen Elizabeth was in the final years of her reign

and she was getting old, which must be taken into consideration.

Therefore, the issue of succession was very topical. Who was to become

the next monarch of England? This issue arose because there was no

heir to the throne since the Queen had no children and had remained

unmarried. Powerful Catholic countries surrounded England, who had

broken away from the Pope in the reign of Henry VIII. They saw Englandas

a potential country to invade and reconvert to Catholicism. The

possibility of civil war was becoming a real threat, as many people

believed that they had a rightful claim to the throne. Therefore there

was much discontent throughout the country.

When Shakespeare's play was written, the English were vulnerable, weak

and living in fear. Shakespeare's intention was to increase the morale

of the citizens of England by reuniting the country, making the English

feel proud and of their noble heritage. By writing the play, he hoped

to raise their self-esteem and enthusiasm for the forthcoming events.

He wanted to remind the English about the good times in the past and

their heroic victory at the Battleof Agincourt. This made the play a

propaganda piece. The play has many references to English greatness

throughout, for example the victory of the Black Prince. By doing

this, he makes the English people see what a powerful and immense

country they actually were and that Englandwas a force to be re...

... middle of paper ...

...s and Fluellen. In matters of state Henry is

firm and decisive as demonstrated by his reply to the Dauphin's

'tennis balls' insult, which is dignified but restrained. He is also

fair and just. Shakespeare's exploration of leadership, through the

character of Henry V, Shakespeare shows us that Henry has truly

changed from the real tearaway he used to be. It seems that

Shakespeare has presented us with the ideal monarch. Henry is loyal

and leads by example. I think that the play was a great success. It

gave the country a big boost and improved their self-esteem, which

gave the citizens of England more confidence. However another opinion

is that Henry is cold hearted, and a cynical ruthless manipulator, his

piety a mask for his ambition and in seeking the approval of the

church gave him someone to blame if all went wrong.

More about Leadership in William Shakespeare's Henry V

Open Document