Values And Beliefs In Shakespeare's Henry V

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Shakespeare’s adaption of historical times and events in Henry V contextually provides insights of values and beliefs of his era by exemplifying certain voices and silencing others. Such voices such as the King’s, the church, and highly respected or known military members have their voices held in the proudest, and loudest, position. Women, commoners and the like, however, are found commonly silenced and oppressed. Over the course of his patriotic, monarchy-focussed retelling of the past, Shakespeare expresses ideas of leadership and war through the adoration. In addition to this, a central theme of King’s “mandate of heaven” becomes evident, both in the dialogue of the play as well as the structure. Henry’s “mandate of heaven” and sequential…show more content…
In the prologue, Shakespeare epitomises Henry for the audience, and attempts to build a poignant love of him, which becomes a central theme as the play continues. In the prologue, Shakespeare writes “the warlike Harry, like himself / Assume the port of Mars”. This immediate, simplistic description of Henry V as warlike displays what, at the time, was wanted in a leader: powerful, warmongering and bloodthirsty. In addition to this, the casual nicknaming of Henry to Harry shows that another value in a King was that he represented the people, while also appearing god-like, demonstrated in the audience wanting to link Henry to Mars, the Roman god of war. This empowering of Henry by Shakespeare is consistent and constant in the prologue, where the Chorus asks the audience to forgive “this unworthy scaffold” for bringing “forth / So great an object.” This hyperbolic allusion towards the King once more raises the King above common people, beckoning the audience, both contemporary and of the contextual era to know the power and strength Henry held. While profoundly restrictive in the variety of voices projected, Shakespeare’s Henry V provides a window into the values and beliefs of the time, especially those central to leadership, war and royalty as a concept. By guiding the easily malleable beliefs and imaginations of the common
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