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Henry V (Wars of the Roses #4)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  23,130 ratings  ·  598 reviews
The introduction includes an examination of the Quarto and texts, and of the relationship between them; a critical discussion of the play's historical and literary sources; an examination of conflicting critical attitudes to the play, and of its fluctuating theatrical fortunes; and a demonstration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's characterization.
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Paperback, 281 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1600)
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I read this play a few weeks ago, but haven’t figured out exactly what to say about it. It’s been sitting there, just waiting to be reviewed; I’ve been negligent. If you look at the poor book now, you’ll notice that its tights are all wrinkled, it’s codpiece is all askew, and it’s in desperate need of a shave. It’s taken to habitual television watching; CSI: Miami. I just want to put it out of its misery. So here I go.

I haven’t stopped thinking about this play since I finished reading it. I was...more
Thanks to Kenneth Branagh, this Henry history play was the cool Shakespeare movie when I was in high school. Eat your heart out Franco Zeffirelli. Mr. Branagh acted and directed his butt off. There were lots of arrows flying between England and France. The French were portrayed as snobs, a testament to the Bard’s high research standards. The original score was majestic. Did I mention the cool arrows?

Honestly, I’m still not sure why England and France were fighting—something about tennis balls b...more
As I finish the second tetralogy's finale, King Henry V , I contemplate Shakespeare's effect on the presentation of history. He devotes nearly half of his theatrical contributions to stories plotted in reality rather than born of his imagination. I have argued before that Shakespeare, blessed with a genius' perspective, sees art not only in the creative arena but in reality. The presentation of the human condition happens among humans and not within the faculties of one's mind. Yet in order to p...more
"For God, Harry, and St George!"

Lord, what a play. Shakespeare is often times enjoyable, but I love to refer to this as the ultimate coming of age story. Every young man in the world deserves to see this performed.

The play is really, in my opinion, a cluster of insecurities facing young men. From his mockery at the hands of the Dauphin, to his proving his worth in combat, to the pressure put on him as king, the judgments he is forced to make, and maybe even a little romance, you will see Harry...more
Even for those whose introduction to Shakespeare has afforded them a positive experience -- thanks, perhaps, to a solid production of "Macbeth" or "Midsummer's Night's Dream" -- I think there's some trepidation about the history plays. I was no exception, feeling that my complete ignorance of the British monarchs would leave me unable to understand or enjoy the stories as told by Shakespeare.

I felt that way until my wife and I started seeing productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Altho...more
What I thought would happen in this play – the fourth in the sequence of ‘prequels’ Shakespeare wrote to his three Henry VI plays and Richard III – was that young Hal, now King Henry V, would show he had come of age, finally become a real hero and fulfilled his promise from Henry IV part I – “And like bright metal on sullen ground, / My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault / Shall show more goodly, and attract more eyes, / Than that which hath no foil to set it off.” All this I had expected – a...more
Pete daPixie
It is not easy for me to award high star ratings to texts of plays, even those from the pen of William Shakespeare. The Oxford Shakespeare series transforms the simple lines of the drama into something much greater. 'Henry V' is revealed in all it's glory as almost every line of dialogue is presented with explanations of the Elizabethan politic mindset, the historical sources and sixteenth century colloquialisms.
On stage or film set this play has become a monumental work. Right from the opening...more
I taught this play for 18 years, not because I thought it was Shakespeare's best history, but because of Branaugh's wonderful cutting of it which makes this play so much more teachable. The two Henry IV plays are better with their complicated politics, the tension between the King and his wayward son, wonderful characters like Hotspur, and, of course, his best comic creation in Falstaff. But they're harder to read mainly because of the use of low class slang in the Falstaff scenes. Henry V is ea...more
Jen Chough
May 29, 2009 Jen Chough rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jen by: Inspired to read due to music from the movie
This is perhaps my favorite work of Shakespeare. When given the choice to read and write about ANTYHING (even a comic) as my last senior paper in AP English, it was a no-brainer to pull this play out. It's got it all - action, humor, drama, politics, and probably some of the most stirring and inspirational pre-battle speeches known to mankind. I mean, the stuff in here blows anything in Braveheart out of the water. "Once more unto the breach" and "St. Crispin's Day" will instill courage into eve...more
We few, we happy few. We band of brothers...

The St. Crispen's day speech alone is well worth the price of admission! Other books have similar calls to arm, but I have read none so stirring as those in Henry V.

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Brian Robbins
A delightful, rip-roaring read. Much more enjoyable than both parts of Henry IV, as it did not have Falstaff & crew in those interminable "comic" scenes.

I understand that many people love the character of Falstaff, but he and his appearances left me cold. I was just glad when he croaked it in this play. That may well be a blind spot in me & maybe I am missing something. If so please do show me what it is.

A me l'Henry V fa venire voglia di invadere la Francia.
Un po' perchè i nobili francesi, soprattutto il Delfino, vengono presentati furbescamente da Shakespeare come degli stupidotti che alla vigilia della battaglia si mettono a parlare dei loro cavalli, un po' come farebbero gli uomini d'oggi con le loro macchine, ma soprattutto perchè re Henry è presentato come un vero leader, pieno di carisma per il quale vale la pena combattere e morire.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
è for
Bill  Kerwin

Sure, it's a jingoistic pageant, but it's a great jingoistic pageant, and--besides--it is the most melancholy,ironic, self-aware--and laugh-filled--jingoistic pageant ever staged. In Act V, Henry tells Katherine that together they will produce a son, and that this warlike paragon of chivalry will march to the Holy Land and "take the Turk by the beard." Yet we should know--and Shakespeare's audience certainly knew--that this boy would grow up to be Henry VI, the sickly, prayerful unstable man who...more
Feeling frustrated?:

Now are you?

You're welcome!

(Just in case anyone forgot how awesome this is for a minute.)
Tyson Adams
It just doesn't get any better than this!!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
You want to know how to inspire people? Lead? Kill thousands of swishy Frenchman in a matter of hours? This is the play for you.

I don't know if King Harry was really anything like this, but I'm going with it. What I love about this character is his change. This is a guy that starts out as the typical royal brat, not unlike the current prince harry. But when the chips are down, and he's now King, he puts his people first. He has his old drinking buddy executed because he refused to give anyone s...more
I went and saw Anonymous the other day and was surprised that I liked the film, especially since I find the central thesis of the film utterly repugnant. But then, having watched the film, I realized something. I wondered what if the whole point of the film, which tries to overturn what is essentially an unassailable fact, that Shakespeare wrote the plays traditionally attributed to him, and not the Earl of Oxford (who in the film is played by the same guy who is Hugh Grant's flat mate in Nottin...more
"What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man fro...more
I wavered between rating this book with 3 and 4 stars -- 3.5 would be more fitting. It tells the story of Henry V's transformation from a wild and unruly youth, surrounded by the likes of Sir John Falstaff, to his rise to glory as King of England and conqueror of France. As the Archbishop of Canterbury says at the play's onset: "The courses of his youth promised not. The breath no sooner left his father's body,/But that his wildness mortified him,/Seemed to die too: yea, at that very moment/Cons...more
Henry V is the play that made me fall in love with Shakespeare. The moment I heard Kenneth Branagh say “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers, …” my heart just stopped.

Until I watched Branagh’s film I didn't like Shakespeare, I only knew Romeo and Juliet and I just couldn't understand why he didn't wrote a happy ending for that play, was it really that difficult to make Juliet wake up a few minutes earlier? (in my defense let me the say that I was only 13).

That film made me want to read the...more
Jul 12, 2007 Joseph rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: erybody
Shakespeare is a monster I guess. I used to be all types of caught up on the inspirational speeches...."we few, we happy few, we band of brothers"....but it is pretty clear that Shakespeare was smarter than that.....

Now I can't get away from the quarrel between Williams and King Henry on the eve of the battle:

BATES: He may show what outward courage he will, but I believe, as cold a night as 'tis, he could wish himself in Thames up to the neck; and so I would he were, and I by him, at all adventu...more
I had a sudden impulse to read this again and sat down and read it all in a night. I rediscovered favorite speeches and experienced a greater understanding of the conflict of Henry's personal transformation from Prince Hal to King Henry. There is, of course, Shakespeare's masterful articulation of a kind of warrior poet in the speeches of Henry and others, but this time I found myself more compelled by the quieter moments of contemplation regarding existence and relationship. Shakespeare is alwa...more
Paul Servini
Reading through a number of Shakespeare plays at the moment, most of which I had already read. But this one I had not. It was particularly interesting for the insights it gave into how war could be portrayed on stage. I was also fascinated by Shakespeare's knowledge of French. He knew the language so well, he could even write it badly - as an Englishman with little knowledge of the language would.
As Shakespeare's history plays go, this is definitely a compelling one. It has some of the bard's most memorable speeches, a fascinating chorus, and lots and lots of layers.

The first time I read this, I found myself rolling my eyes occasionally ("we get it Shakespeare, Henry was super dreamy, keep it in your pants"), but upon further inspection, it's a lot more critical than I originally thought, and the many foils to Harry's story rightfully invite the audience to ask questions about the right...more
"once more onto the breach dear friends!" how many times have you heard that? Henry V is more than just your war epic, it's a mixture of "we're going to war!" epic, "war is terrible" epic, and "war wins you the babe princess" epic. There are many layers to this story, as Shakespeare never likes to tell anything so plainly. A lot of the formation of the story has to do with the times England was in at the time; a rebellion in Ireland, the plague, and the queen had no children so everyone was all...more
I was one of those people who rolled my eyes at Shakespeare. But after reading this play, I believe that I may have jumped to conclusions. I'm still not crazy about him, but I have to admit that this play was amazing! I absolutely loved it. The only reason I gave it four stars and not five was because I wasn't too satisfied with the ending, but besides that, I really enjoyed reading it. I really like how Shakespeare played with this idea of what it meant to be honourable, and how he made some un...more
Henry V is a play that has both grown and diminished over time. The style of the play has grown in that we are now able to render the play in terms that Shakespeare would have liked.

In his day, Shakespeare could only offer the action of Harfleur and Agincourt on a stage, and the frequent interventions of the Chorus lament the inadequacy of a stage for such grand events and encourage us to use our imagination. Now, we have the medium of film and television (with two notable movie versions by Oli...more
One of my all time favorite stories by Wm. Shakespeare! I am proud to say I had ancestors that fought in the very battle featured in this play, and thankfully they survived or I would not be here to write this! It is an interesting thing reading through Shakespeare's history plays for two reasons, 1) it is a recount of that period within recent time of it happening, much the way we would think of speaking about WWII or Vietnam. He was able to speak with those that were their or talk to the child...more
Erik Graff
Jun 15, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shakespeare fans
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Badger
Shelves: drama
Last night my stepbrother, having two free tickets to the performance, took me to see Henry V down at the Navy Pier Shakespeare theatre. This was the first time I'd seen it performed on stage having previously only seen two film productions, the first back at Grinnell College.

Although we both enjoyed the experience and appreciated the troupe, neither of us were much impressed by the play. The plot is simple: Henry, matured from his 'Henry IV" roistering, is king. He has territorial claims on the...more
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr...more
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“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”
“[Thine] face is not worth sunburning.” 205 likes
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