Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. What kind of a king is King Henry V? Is he a good king or merely a successful one?
2. Henry V spends a lot of time simply giving speeches to others (to the French ambassador, before the town of Harfleur, and before Agincourt, for example). What effect do Henry’s speeches have, and how are they important in the play?
3. Women are almost absent from the play, allowing male-to-male relationships to dominate. What do you think of the male bonding, or the structures of friendship and enmity between men, in the play? Which characters have these relationships and which do not? How does King Henry participate in these relationships?
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?
by ReadingShakespearefor450th, April 09, 2013
I just finished Henry V, the 19th Shakespeare play, in my quest to read all the Bard by his 450th birthday next year. If you're interested, visit my blog to find out what I thought of it and more on what I thought of Henry: