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Sacramento United States of America
Good King Harry...
Feb 29, 2008 03:24 AM 1851 Views



As with all Shakespeare we take the tedium with a grain of salt and brave the assault of pithy words and lyrical verses. It is admittedly difficult in a modern world of movies, sound bites and 24-7 news feeds to sit down and delve into WS's works. That said, I can find no fault in this masterpiece; it is my favorite of his works. I believe there is no other hero as poignant as good King Harry, whose decision to leave behind his prior mis-deeds and take on the mantle of responsibility prove his courage, strength and wisdom. Thankfully, Shakespeare chose to write this story replete with historical fact as well as a heavy admiration for the man himself. William Shakespeare makes it fairly obvious that Henry the Fifth was one of his childhood heroes; the voice and descriptions show well that the writer was honored to craft the epic tale. Not only did he do so, but he managed to peddle around freely with his fantastic knack for describing characters via their dialog. The ability to credibly pan to'flashback', so to speak, is rare in any piece, let alone a written one.

The beginning scene of priests locked in whispered discussion is perhaps a bit of a mire to wade through, but once you've read it about 6 times it begins to seem more on the'brilliant' end of the scale. It definitely shows the impact of religion on royalty and also the frank differences between priests today and then. Then again, some monks used to be renowned fighters/archers/blacksmiths and often aided the ruling monarch in leading troops or in battle tactics.

My favorite scene is of course the famous'brother' speech, for he that sheds his blood with me this day, shall be my brother. ah, the glory of battle for king and country. Yes, such days are done, but the lessons learned and honor earned forthwith remain priceless.

This is also the finest tale of brain VS brawn as far as historical battles go; the very first time a hunting weapon, the Welsh longbow(made specifically from the Yew tree) was used in battle. Few at that time knew of it's special secret: it was the first armor-piercing weapon. The French found this out rather painfully of course. The play did exaggerate the few number of English dead(it was more like 1300) but the amount of dead French was pretty darn close.

As far as pure patriotic power of the pen, this play takes the cake. It makes one wish they could have stood in the group and yelled, “For England and the King!” Ah, to have such leaders now.

The scenes with Catherine are a sweet diversion and, like life, spiced with just a touch of humor.(This is especially played up in the film)

It is safe to say this piece of great literature has spawned much creativity and also acted as an anchor for historical action movies. Ridley Scott, for instance, is much influenced by this play. I am of obviously skipping over Kenneth Branah here, but if you have no seen his version of Henry the V, then you must rent it tonight. Even for a movie done in the late 80's it is breathtakingly well done.


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Henry V - William Shakespeare