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think it is e’en Macedon where Alexander is porn. I tell you, captain,
if you look in the maps of the world I warrant you sall find, in
the comparisons between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations,
look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon, and there
is also moreover a river at Monmouth. . . . If you mark Alexander’s
life well, Harry of Monmouth’s life is come after it indifferent
well. For there is figures in all things. Alexander, God knows,
and you know, in his rages and his furies and his wraths and his cholers
and his moods and his displeasures and his indignations, and also
being a little intoxicates in his prains, did in his ales and his
angers, look you, kill his best friend Cleitus —
Fluellen delivers this speech to Gower
after Henry commands in the previous scene that the English soldiers
kill all their French prisoners. Fluellen compares Henry to Alexander
the Great, whom he initially calls “Alexander the Pig,” meaning
“Alexander the Big” (IV.vii.10). Fluellen
bases his comparison upon the ridiculous fact that there is a river
in the town where Henry was born and a river in the town where Alexander
In addition to being amusing, the speech is important
because of its somewhat ominous ending. Fluellen notes that Alexander
killed his best friend, a crime of which the audience might also
accuse Henry, who indirectly or directly causes the deaths of Falstaff, Scrope,
and Bardolph. Shakespeare thus uses Fluellen’s humor, in a moment
of comic relief, to probe some of the moral anxiety lurking beneath
his heroic portrait of Henry. Fluellen’s comparison of Henry to
Alexander is both amusing and highly flattering to Henry. But, by
unintentionally making the darker connection that both men killed
friends, Fluellen emphasizes one of the play’s problem areas—namely,
that running parallel to the qualities of leadership and justice
in the minds of great kings is often a troubling capacity for violence
Ace your assignments with our guide to Henry V!