Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

Suggested Essay Topics

1. Some contemporary critics are uneasy with Henry V because they feel it glorifies war and imperialism. They note that when the play was produced during the World War II era, it was easily turned into patriotic propaganda. Do you agree with their assessment? Does the play present a realistic picture of war?

2. How does Shakespeare use individual characters to present a broad panorama of the various peoples and cultures that were part of Britain during Henry’s reign? What are some of these cultures, and how does Shakespeare’s evocation of them relate to the Chorus’s first speech before Act I?

3. Throughout the play Shakespeare employs a number of recurring metaphors to describe and characterize war. What are some of these metaphors? What do they have in common? How might they help the audience to picture a massive battle on a small stage?

4. How are marriage, families, and parenting treated in the play? How do they relate to the political realm?