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Free Study Guide-Henry V by William Shakespeare-Free Book Notes Online
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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES

ACT IV, SCENE 2

Summary

At the French camp early in the morning, the French nobles are eager for battle and continue to banter. The Dauphin continues to talk about the wonders of his horse and the Constable makes a speech of encouragement and wonders how little there is for them to do. Grandpre describes the sorry plight of the English army. They leave for the attack.

Notes

Back at the French camp again, the same lighthearted Mood prevails from Act III. In fact they are incapable of taking the matter seriously and will be horribly betrayed by their arrogant confidence. "Securities is mortal's chiefest enemy." There is an underlying irony in the scenes in which the French King and the French lords appear as the audience knows of their pending defeat yet they continue to chide the English and their beleaguered army. Once again the English are characterized by humility and reverence while the French are characterized by over-confidence and arrogant pride. The result of the battle is almost foreseen here in the lax attitude and lack of leadership. No army can win regardless of numbers if the leadership is wanting.


ACT IV, SCENE 3

Summary

As morning dawns in the English camp, the nobility contemplates the fearful odds they are facing. Westmoreland wishes that they had ten thousand men from England but Henry overhearing this remark rejects this wish and says that the less people they have means the more honor that will be bestowed on those who fought. In a speech of encouragement, he says that any soldier in the army who wishes may leave. He then looks forward to the time when the day of this battle, St Crispin's Day, will be celebrated yearly in England. The names of all who fought will be household words. Afterwards, Salisbury announces that the French are about to attack and Westmoreland says that he only needs the king by his side to do battle. Montjoy returns to the camp and once again demands ransom. Henry again refuses. The Duke of York asks for the privilege of leading the vanguard and the request is granted. They leave for the battle.

Notes

This is another contrasted picture of the English camp to the French one. The English lords are ready for the battle and take solemn leave of each other, realizing that they may not survive the day. On the eve of the battle, the King seems to have recovered his self-composure. He most definitely has reclaimed his role as leader and is confident that he will win. His confidence, enthusiasm, and even his valor seem to be infectious. He inspires his followers despite the odds against them with a riveting speech invoking the heroism and glory that will be bestowed upon those who do battle for England. Once again, England is portrayed as being solemn and humble, understanding that the day to come will be an occasion for sadness as well as joy. The historical significance of the Battle of Agincourt is underscored in this scene.

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