Billie Pritchett's Reviews > Henry V

Henry V by William Shakespeare
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's review
Apr 09, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: play, shakespeare
Read in April, 2010

Young Prince Henry of Wales from Henry IV grows up to be Henry V, king of England, and goes to war with France because he can. Fans of this play argue that Henry is a model king, because he judges people on their character and considers himself one of the people, among other things. However, Henry is no ideal I admire, namely because he goes to war for no reason. Being an equal opportunity critic, one would have to say that then as now no war should be fought unless it is just, and, just wars being few, consequently, most wars should not be fought at all, least of all Henry's type of war. Two soldiers in the play, John Bates and Michael Williams, said it well when they were in their encampment in French lands, waiting to fight the French. First, Bates:
... I would [the king:] were here alone; so should he be sure to be ransom'd, and a many poor men's lives saved. (4.1.121-123)
Now Williams:
...[I:]f the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs, and arms, and heads, chopp'd off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all, "We died at such a place"--some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? (4.1.134-143)
This might have been a better play, had Bates or Williams been the heroes.

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