A Man Above Kings Essay Research Paper

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A Man Above Kings Essay, Research Paper A Man Above Kings In William Shakespeare s Henry V, King Henry is at the height of his reign as he defeats the French in one of the most significant battles in English history. As Henry fights the ongoing battle on French soil, he is subjected to many situations that define him as a man as well as a king. As the play progresses, these demanding situations test his military ability, intelligence, and endurance. In some people s view, such as the Dauphin, Henry is merely a childish and immature leader whose lack of experience as a king make him worthless to the English throne (Shakespeare II.iv.28). Remarks such as these are based upon the fact that Henry is still young, therefore making him an immature leader of England. Although these

are strong comments, they are only assumptions made by those who neglect to recognize Henry s true potential as a man as well as a true king. King Henry s charm, military superiority, as well as his ability to be a kindhearted man makes his alleged juvenile behavior relatively insignificant. As the play leads young Henry into war with the French, we see him mature into a charming hero, as well as a compassionate egalitarian. Henry is seen as a great hero for England, while avoiding common problems that can affect his success. Despite the opinions of those who dislike him, the fact remains that Henry was a hero, a King of England, and the conqueror of the King of France (Hazlitt 194). As a result of Henry s heroic characteristics, he has the benefit of being without certain

dangerous tendencies which mark the tragic heroes, thus he is, perhaps, the most efficient character drawn by Shakespeare (Bradley 209). In general, Henry is seen as a genuinely charming, modest, and patient king. In spite of the difficult and doubtful circumstances in which he is placed, Henry s behavior is as patient and modest as it is spirited and lofty in his prosperous fortune (Hazlitt 195). Even officials in the church see Henry as a king who is full of grace and fair regard (Shakespeare I.i.24). Henry proves himself to be a true egalitarian, demonstrating his attention towards the worth of those below him, and even those against him. The respect towards those below the King is clearly expressed when he talks to the yeomen of England at Harfleur: Let us swear That you are

worth your breeding, which I doubt not, For there is none of you so mean and base That hath not nobler luster in your eyes. (Shakespeare III.ii.29-33) Despite the fact that Henry is trying to conquer the French, the sacking of Harfleur is never actually ordered by the King. Instead the brutality of such a sacking is contained within Henry s imagined projection of it, (Hall 22) thus he uses mercy upon his enemies. Henry s heroic tendencies and charming attitude heighten his image to those who live amongst him, but his military superiority is what heightens his image to those around him. Several times throughout the play, Henry makes the transition for a charming hero to an intimidating soldier, thus making his supposed immaturity become non-existent. In a single situation, the

King can appear to be a strong and intimidating soldier, while at the same time withholding his modesty and kindness. When Henry appears before an adversary [h]e inspires a high degree of fear, enthusiasm, and affection; thanks to his beautiful modesty he has the charm which is lacking to another mighty warrior (Bradley 209). Despite what seems to be a coldly practical military strategy, Henry s order is made out by Shakespeare to have been, ultimately, a passionate reaction (Hall 23). In more extreme circumstances, Henry purely displays his intimidation as only a passionate soldier. Penetrating Harfleur, Henry s army attempts to infiltrate the wall surrounding the city. Hope seems to diminish until Henry shouts, Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once/ more,/ Or close the