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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 6

Summary

On the battlefield, Henry praises the soldiers' efforts, realizing that they have outfought the French yet he warns them that there is still more to do. The French are still in the field and there are many of them. Exeter arrives to describe the deaths of the Duke of York and the Earl of Suffolk. It is a gory yet touching scene as he tells of how the Duke of York was terribly wounded yet wanted to see Suffolk and crawled to him so they could die together. Exeter weeps thinking about it and Henry is moved to tears until he hears an alarm and realizes that the French are regrouping. He orders his soldiers to kill their prisoners.

Notes

The scene exhibits the English phase of the battle as well as notifies the audience that the English have been successful in their endeavors. The King loses two leaders in battle: the Duke of York and the Earl of Suffolk. Although they have had minor roles in the play, their death in the arms of each other renders a moment of love and humanity amongst an other wise grim and bloody battlefield. According to the stage tradition their death is described by Exeter and not represented on the stage. The scene reveals the King as being highly affected by the demise of his men who have died in battle yet in the next moment he is acting again as a stalwart leader, rousing his troops to return to battle and ordering the deaths of all French prisoners. These qualities make him the respected and versatile king that he is. Despite the emotional cost of losing these men, Henry can still act like a fearless and somewhat ruthless leader. In fact, the King's order to kill the French prisoners seems to be a rather heartless act yet it is necessary to ensure success as there are so many of them. Also, as far as historical accuracy, Henry did not give this order until he found out that the French has massacred all the young boys who were watching over the English equipment.


ACT IV, SCENE 7

Summary

On the battlefield, Fluellen and Gower are angry because fleeing French troops have pillaged the King's tent and killed the boys guarding the equipment. Fluellen praises Henry and compares him to Alexander the Great. Henry enters with his train and prisoners. He sends a message to the French to either leave the field or come down and fight. The French herald, Montjoy arrives to inform Henry that the French are defeated. He asks permission for the dead to be buried. Henry sends English heralds with him to catalogue the dead on both sides and says that the battle will always be known as Agincourt. Henry sees Williams with the glove in his cap and questions him about it. Williams explains that he is looking for its owner and will fight him when the man is found. Henry sends him with a message to Gower. He then gives Williams' glove to Fluellen, telling him to wear it in his cap. If anybody challenges it, he must be arrested as a traitor. He sends Fluellen with a message to Gower and then tells Warwick and Gloucester to follow and prevent any injury when Williams and Fluellen meet.

Notes

This scene is rather ungainly and attempts to bring together several plot lines. First is the explanation of why Henry condemned all the French to death. Not only was it to ensure his men's safety but it was also in response to the French massacre of all the young boys in the English army. This reveals Henry's ruthlessness but more importantly shows the support that men such as Gower and Fluellen had for the king's action. Still the analogy of Henry to that of Alexander the Great is a poor one because Fluellen cannot remember much about Alexander's triumphs which is a sad reflection on the transience of military action and also because he was a cruel and bloody conquerer of the ancient world. Although Henry is a just king aware of the emotional cost of war, he does not back down from acts that warrant violence. Therefore, he delivers a harsh line to the French that those who have not yet been caught shall be killed. However, the next plot line that is brought to its conclusion is the victory of the English at Agincourt. His rousing speech of hate towards the French now becomes modest as he thanks God for their victory.

Lastly, the King's old spirit as Prince Hal breaks out again as he plans to carry out a joke at the expense of fluellen and Williams over the glove that he has. Freed from the worries of war, he indulges again in his love of practical jokes. So he hands over Williams glove to Fluellen with the story that he has plucked it from the helmet of Alencon. The encounter between Fluellen and Williams tickles the King's fancy. It is the old Eastcheap tavern spirit again even though the reference to Falstaff earlier is a biting commentary on Henry's rejection of him because of his hedonistic ways even though Fluellen seemed to approve of it.

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