Culmination Of The Henriad Tetralogy In Shakespeare's Henry V

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Shakespeare’s seminal classic Henry V is the culmination of the Henriad tetralogy, and is an allusion to the aphorism that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” for despite being renowned as a warrior king in the Bard’s tale, King Henry fought his battles with the mettle of his rhetoric rather than the metal of his blade. This can be seen in the way in which he utilises orotund oratory to intimidate the citizens of Harfleur into surrendering, but perhaps his most monumental use of magniloquence was when wooing the heart of Katherine. Love is a battlefield unto itself, and the way that Henry V wickedly twisted his words was analogous to the skill that the English soldiers displayed off-stage, on the battlefields of Agincourt. There are a number …show more content…
In verse, new lines are begun to permit the use of a specific metre, most commonly iambic pentameter in Shakespeare’s works. It is seen as a more elevated, more “noble” form of language when compared to prose, and Shakespeare commonly used prose for working-class and comic characters. However, despite the scene being set in the French court, the passage in Act V Scene II from lines 97 to 263 is written in prose, not verse. The engagement with a wider range of demographics built a rapport between the audience and Harry so that they could enjoy and empathise more with his suit of Katherine. Throughout the passage, Shakespeare also utilised many complex rhetorical devices. Exaggeration often carries the connotations of overestimation, but Henry hyperbolised an under-estimation of his skill with words, both in English, “I’ faith, Kate, my wooing is fit for thy understanding. I am glad thou canst speak no better English,” (V. ii. 120-123) and in French “I shall never move thee in French, unless it be to laugh at me. ”(V. ii. 178-179) This is a similar trick to the prologue at the beginning of the play, where Shakespeare intentionally subverts our expectations of the quality. When Henry does this, it makes him seem more humble, and his keen wordplay is seen as more effective. The hyperbole is just that, however, as Shakespeare portrayed Henry with a keen command of language by using pun “Fair Katherine, and most fair,” (V. ii. 102) and ploce. “If thou would have such a one, take me. And take me, take a soldier. Take a soldier, take a king.” (V. ii. 159-162) As well as a keen command of language, Henry utilised convoluted logic when confronted by Katherine. “Ô bon Dieu! Les langues des hommes sont pleines de tromperies.” (V. ii. 115) was an astute observation on her behalf, as Henry wickedly twisted his arguments to

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