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Free Study Guide-Henry V by William Shakespeare-Free Book Notes Online
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The action of the play shifts from England to France during the reign of Henry V of England (1413-1422).

Act I of Henry V is set in an antechamber and then the presence chamber in King's palace in London.

In Act II the scene shifts to the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap, and thereafter to the council-chamber in Southampton. Then the audience reverts back to the Eastcheap Tavern. In the last scene, the setting shifts to the King's palace in France.

In Act III, the scene moves to Harfleur in France, then to the French King's palace at Rouen and then to the English camp in Picardy. The very last scene of this act is set in the French camp near Agincourt.

Act IV begins in the English camp at Agincourt. Then it shifts to the French camp and then back to the English camp. The remaining scenes take place in various parts of the battlefield.

Act V begins in the English camp in France and then the scene shifts to the French King's palace. Thus, in the first two acts the scene is laid in England and the last two acts in France.

CHARACTER LIST

Major Characters

King Henry V of England

Ascended the throne after Henry IV. No longer the frivolous youth of earlier plays, known as Prince Hal, he is a king "full of grace and fair regard." He is about to set out on a military venture in France to gain control of the crown.

Charles VI, King of France

He senses that the English forces are mightier than his son, the Dauphin, thinks yet cannot impress this on his son. At the end of the play, he delivers a speech that hopes for prosperity and peace with England through the son that his daughter Kate will provide for King Henry.

Lewis, the Dauphin of France

The son of the king. He is a braggart before the fight and assumes the English will be weak and unorganized. He insults King Henry by sending him a basket of tennis balls, a reference to King Henry's frivolous youth. Ironically, he proves to be of little use in the battle itself.

Isabel

The Queen of France who supports the union of Katharine and Henry.

Katharine

Daughter to Charles VI, and given to Henry V in marriage by the stipulations of the peace accord. She is best remembered for her picturesque broken English. In the third Act she is introduced as being only fourteen yet already realizing she may be wed to Henry.


Minor Characters

The Duke of Gloucester and The Duke of Bedford

Younger brothers of Henry V, who are members of his council and fellow warriors at Agincourt.

The Duke of Exeter

Henry V's uncle and adviser to the throne. He acts as both a statesman and a warrior.

The Duke of York

Henry's cousin, also an adviser, he ends up dead in the battle of Agincourt.

The Earl of Salisbury, The Earl of Westmorel and The Earl of Warwick

Counselors to the King. Each are given no more than a brief speech or a few lines in the play.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Bishop of Ely

High church dignitaries who support Henry's French adventure in acquiring French territory which will provide more money for the church.

The Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop of Masham and Sir Thomas Gray of Northumberland

The three lords who plot with the French against Henry V and are found guilty of treason and executed.

Sir Thomas Erpingham

An old knight.

Gower

An English officer who is a friend of Fluellen's and often discusses with him who is and is not a reputable person.

Fluellen

A brave Welshman who is a great supporter of the King's venture into France and a moralizing character. He tries to show off his knowledge of the classes but ends up getting his references wrong or confused. He is hot-blooded and argumentative and provides humor in the bloody battle scenes.

Macmorris

A fiery Irishman whom Fluellen offends.

Jamy

A Scotsman of few words, he performs valiantly in the battlefield against the French.

John Bates and Alexander Cour

Soldiers in Henry V's army who Henry speaks to the night before the battle of Agincourt. They are representative of the common soldier and present views that are of differing opinions on the role of the king.

Michael Williams

A soldier who argues with the King over the role of the king and his right to wage war. Henry meets him the night he walks around the camp disguised as a commoner to talk to his men on the eve before Agincourt. Williams challenges the masked king to a duel if they both survive the battle the next day and they exchange gloves.

Pistol, Nym, Bardolph

Old cronies of Sir John Falstaff. They are keen to gain from the French war and contribute to the comic relief. Pistol is the only one who survives the war while Nym and Bardolph are both hanged for crimes committed during the war against the French.

Boy

An upstanding young man who tries to separate himself from the rowdy antics of Falstaff's crowd. He refuses to comply with the unscrupulous tactics of Falstaff's crowd and makes very astute character judgments. He is killed when the French raid the supply tents of the English at Agincourt.

Montjoy, a herald

He is the go-between in the various ultimatums sent between the French and the English. In the end, he is humbled by the French defeat at Agincourt and asks permission for the French to bury their dead.

The Duke of Burgundy

He delivers a moving speech after the five-year war with France on the brutual and inhumane degradation of France after years of war.

The Duke of Orleans and The Duke of Bourbon

Members of Charles's council and courtiers. They deride the English army and make light of the oncoming battle with them.

The Constable of France

He is responsible for the defense of France.

Rambures and Grandpre

Two French lords.

The Governor of Harfleur

He is the Governor of the town besieged by the English.

Alice

Katharine's attendant who attempts to teach Katharine English despite her own misunderstanding of the language.

Hostess (Mistress Quickly)

She keeps a tavern in Eastcheap, much frequented by Nym and his pals. She is married to Pistol when he goes off to war and ends up dead from syphilis before he returns to England. She is notorious for her misuse of words.

Lords, Ladies, Officers, Citizens, Soldiers, Messengers and Attendants.

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