Henry V ends a cycle of history plays that starts with Richard II and includes, Henry IV parts 1 and 2. From the start this play is structured differently. It has a chorus that updates the audience as to what is happening. “Oh for a muse of fire. . . “. Important things to note about this play. Firstly, Sir John Falstaff dies rather unceremoniously. He doesn’t even get to die on stage. It is talked about by Pistol and Mistress Quickly. It is a sad way for such a character to go after having been so prominent in other works.
Secondly, This play has some of the more famous quotes from Shakespeare. I mentioned one above. There’s the whole “We band of brothers” bit, and of course “Once more into the breech”. There are good sound bites in this one. Thirdly, big chunks of the dialog are in French with little or no translation.
I will admit that this play didn’t inspire me like I had hoped. I’ve always heard of the greatness of Henry V, but I was let down. All the French bothered me because I don’t speak French well enough to get it. There was comedy in this play that just didn’t work for me. There was also a lot of talk about leeks, the symbol of Wales.
The general plot of the play is that Henry V of England is attempting to gain the throne of France for which he believes he has a right to through his mother. He goes and beats up on the French until the King of France gives Henry his daughter and guarantees Henry’s right to the throne. That’s it. Except for the French and leeks,which aren’t pivotal and in modern times would probably not have been put into the play.
This isn’t my favorite history play by far, but so far it’s not my least favorite. That still goes to Richard II.
Once more into the blog dear friends; once more into the blog.