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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES
ACT IV, SCENE 8
Williams finds Gower and delivers the King's message. Fluellen arrives with the same message and when Williams recognizes his glove in Fluellen's cap, he strikes him. Fluellen accuses Williams of treason, but Warwick and Gloucester arrive before a brawl can begin. Henry arrives and Fluellen denounces Williams. Williams produces his own glove and shows that it is the mate to the one in Fluellen's cap. Henry in turn produces the glove in Williams' cap. He reveals that he was the one who had quarreled with Williams. Williams makes a dignified apology for his own conduct. The king accepts it and rewards Williams by filling his glove with crowns and Fluellen tries to give him even more but Williams rejects his money. An English herald brings a list of the dead that announces that the French have suffered heavy losses while the English have hardly any. Henry commands that there is to no boasting about the victory but give all the credit to God.
The antics of Prince Hal are carried to their rightful ending with the discovery that Henry was the man whom Williams arranged to fight. Now that the war with France is over, the younger, more mischievous side of Henry comes to the surface in this scene of mistaken identity. That Henry does not confront Williams himself with the glove is a question that many critics have mulled over. Many think he is attempting to avoid taking responsibility once again, as he was not acting as a king but as a commoner, while others think that by setting Fluellen up against Williams, the King avoided an awkward scene for Williams who would have had to enter into combat with the king. At the accusation that he has affronted the King, Williams gives a poignant and honest answer. For this, he is rewarded financially.
The news of the dead is a sobering moment and Henry gives thanks for the few fatalities on the English side although in reality, the English lost 500 men, not twenty-five, at the Battle of Agincourt. Still, compared to the 10,000 French dead, this loss is not very considerable.
In several speeches honoring God, Henry's self-effacing character is set in opposition to this more impudent side, especially when he get on his knees and cries, "O God! Thy arm was here." He ascribes the whole victory to God alone. Henry forbids all soldiers to boast of the English triumph. All holy rites are ordered and the "Non nobis" and "Te Deum" are to be sung in thanks to God. The "Non nobis" is Psalm 115: "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." Here he is showing humility as well as insinuating that despite the transgression committed by Henry's father against Richard II in deposing him, the English victory against the French could only have been possible because of it. Therefore, it has been divinely ordained.
Here Henry is seen in his many guises: as an impish, game-playing young man, as a royal king accepting the news of victory with grace, and as a humble ruler, giving thanks to God.