Blurred Lines of Heroism and Villainy in Shakspeare's Henry V

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King Henry V is considered to be by far one of the greatest rulers to ever have graced the throne of England. Shakespeare demonstrates this belief by exemplifying Henry’s strong attributes showing just how great and powerful of a leader Henry was. However the issue of power and ethics plays a tremendous role in the personification of Henry as a person. There is no doubt that Henry’s power and ethical stance makes him a great king, but by being a great king, Henry is forced to act in a way that can be construed as dissolute. Henry betrays a number of his friends including Falstaff, and threatens the Governor of Harfleur ordering him to surrender or he will kill the innocent children of Harfleur. It is through the issue of power and ethics …show more content…
It is understandable that Henry acted in such a way to preserve the power of his throne, but to some it can be seen as an act of immorality caused by excess power. So in this instance the lines of hero and villain are blurred by Henry’s banishment of Falstaff which ended in death. There are two other instances involving friends of Henry in which Henry’s power and ethics come into play, and once again Shakespeare blurs the lines of hero and villain. The first incident comes to light in Act II, scene ii in which Henry becomes informed of a treacherous plot against him by Scroop, Cambridge and Grey. Henry allows the three to speak freely before they are aware that he has been informed of their treasonous plan. The three speak highly of the King, giving him praise on his fearless leadership. Cambridge at one point state “Never was monarch better feared and loved than is your Majesty. There’s not, I think, a subject that sits in heart-grief and uneasiness under the sweet shade of your government” (II.ii.27-300). Despite the high praise Henry decides to speak of the plot of treason against him. The men are once again allowed to speak on their reasoning behind the act. The men try to explain that the money offered by the French meant nothing to them, and they seek forgiveness and mercy by their gracious king. Henry becomes outraged

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