Many modern critics have commented on the attitudes to war presented in the play. Using the two speeches,
“… deliver up the crown … in this controversy” (Act II, Scene 4)
“… On your noblest English … And teach them how to war,” (Act III, Scene 1)
as starting points,
And any further productions you might have seen or heard, e.g. Olivier, Branagh and OU cassette versions,
· Explore the ways, in which you think Shakespeare dramatically presents war and its consequences in the play as a whole.
· How the attitudes of war have been dramatically presented in the play as a whole have affected the Olivier, Branagh and OU productions.
Many modern critics have commented on the attitudes to war presented in the play. This can be seen in the two speeches, “Deliver up the crown … in this controversy”, (Act II, Scene 4) and “On, on you noblest English … And teach them how to war,” (Act III, Scene 1).
Within Act II, Scene 4, we see the French King orders his nobles and his son to strengthen the defences against the English invasion, ‘It is most meet we arm us ‘gainst the foe’ (Act II, Scene 4, pg.90). The Dauphin agrees that precautions should be taken but refuses to accept that the English King
He calls his men "dear friends"tm, implying that they are his willing companions. We are here reminded that Henry has cast off his previous idle ways. Some critics have described Henry as a cynical, ruthless manipulator. However, in addition to the rhetoric, and the glories of the English victory we are given indicators of the darker aspects of war. The unity and fellowship among the English is contrasted with the discord among the French. The French are shown as vain and incompetent, defeated by a small, sickly English army. He has a sense of humour as demonstrated in the trick he plays on Fluellen and Williams. Henry"tms speech to the Governor of Harfleur (Act III, Scene 3), gives some indication of the horrors involved in the sack of a town. "tm (Act IV, Scene 3)"Show men dutifulWhy, so didst thou. Unlike the French leaders, (Charles VI), he does not use idle oaths or take God"tms name in vain. Olivier strongly emphasizes the cowardice of the French leaders in comparison to the bravery of Henry and his soldiers, making it clear whose side God is on. We see him leading his men at the siege of Harfleur and hear that he has been in personal combat at Agincourt, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,"tm (Act III, Scene 1, pg. The play looks at war from various points of view and is about the political and moral burdens kingship and war brings. In his soliloquy in Act IV, Scene 1, he reveals his feelings about the responsibilities of kingship and the emptiness of ceremony and adulation.