William Shakespeare's Henry V

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William Shakespeare's Henry V

Shakespeare's plays can be divided into three distinct categories:

histories, romances and comedies. Henry the fifth is a history.

Henry V is the last of four plays by William Shakespeare which tells

of the rise of the house of Lancaster. It was written in 1599 but is

set in 1415, two years after the death of his father and Henry has

made a favourable impression on his courtiers and the clergy. He has

constantly been encouraged to seize the throne of France with the

support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. When the King of France

responds with a mocking gift of tennis balls it presents Henry with

the perfect excuse to begin the invasion.

The invasion ends up in triumph but Henry still had more to do. In

1420 Henry returns to France on peace terms. His demands were granted,

one of which was the hand in marriage of Katherine, the Dauphin's

daughter and subsequently Henry is made the heir to the French crown.

But was this play a pageant or a play? Did it actually display history

or was it just a showcase of brave Britain as a story.

The story of Henry V is not simply an exert from the imagination of

William Shakespeare. Many historical details of the play were taken

from Raphael Holinshed's the Chronicles of England, Scotland and

Ireland. Shakespeare also made some references to an anonymous play

dating from 1594, The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth. However it

is understood that this play was so poor that Shakespeare went to an

earlier better version which was the inspiration for the Famous

Victories of Henry V. It has been claimed that some incidents in Henry

V can be traced to other spec...

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...husiastic and watching a play was an exciting

experience. I think that they would have preferred the play to be

performed in the way that Shakespeare had wrote to a more historic

version because the historic version would have many negative things

in it. This would have probably made the audience a bit more negative.

The main reason that Shakespeare wrote it the way he did was that it

would've made the audience feel positive and happier. It made them

think that they were learning about the history of their country while

at the same time having a good time. It would've also given them an

escape from their dreary, laborious lives.

To conclude, Shakespeare's Henry V is more pageant than play but for

the right reasons. But we must ask ourselves, if Henry V only really

displayed history would it not just be a documentary?

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