Overview of the play
Henry V


The action of the play shifts from England to France during the reign of Henry V of England (1413-1422). Act I of Henry V is set in an antechamber and then the presence chamber in King's palace in London. In Act II the scene shifts to the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap, and thereafter to the council-chamber in Southampton. Then the audience reverts back to the Eastcheap Tavern. In the last scene, the setting shifts to the King's palace in France. In Act III, the scene moves to Harfleur in France, then to the French King's palace at Rouen and then to the English camp in Picardy. The very last scene of this act is set in the French camp near Agincourt. Act IV begins in the English camp at Agincourt. Then it shifts to the French camp and then back to the English camp. The remaining scenes take place in various parts of the battlefield. Act V begins in the English camp in France and then the scene shifts to the French King's palace. Thus, in the first two acts the scene is laid in England and the last two acts in France.


King Henry V of England - ascended the throne after Henry IV. No longer the frivolous youth of earlier plays, known as Prince Hal, he is a king "full of grace and fair regard." He is about to set out on a military venture in France to gain control of the crown.

Charles VI, King of France - He senses that the English forces are mightier than his son, the Dauphin, thinks yet cannot impress this on his son. At the end of the play, he delivers a speech that hopes for prosperity and peace with England through the son that his daughter Kate will provide for King Henry.

Lewis, the Dauphin of France - the son of the king. He is a braggart before the fight and assumes the English will be weak and unorganized. He insults King Henry by sending him a basket of tennis balls, a reference to King Henry's frivolous youth. Ironically, he proves to be of little use in the battle itself.

Isabel-the Queen of France who supports the union of Katharine and Henry.

Katharine - daughter to Charles VI, and given to Henry V in marriage by the stipulations of the peace accord. She is best remembered for her picturesque broken English. In the third Act she is introduced as being only fourteen yet already realizing she may be wed to Henry.

The Duke of Gloucester and The Duke of Bedford - younger brothers of Henry V, who are members of his council and fellow warriors at Agincourt.

The Duke of Exeter - Henry V's uncle and adviser to the throne. He acts as both a statesman and a warrior.

The Duke of York - Henry's cousin, also an adviser, he ends up dead in the battle of Agincourt.

The Earl of Salisbury, The Earl of Westmorel and The Earl of Warwick - counselors to the King. Each are given no more than a brief speech or a few lines in the play.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Bishop of Ely - high church dignitaries who support Henry's French adventure in acquiring French territory which will provide more money for the church.

The Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop of Masham and Sir Thomas Gray of Northumberland - the three lords who plot with the French against Henry V and are found guilty of treason and executed.

Sir Thomas Erpingham - an old knight.

Gower - an English officer who is a friend of Fluellen's and often discusses with him who is and is not a reputable person.

Fluellen - a brave Welshman who is a great supporter of the King's venture into France and a moralizing character. He tries to show off his knowledge of the classes but ends up getting his references wrong or confused. He is hot-blooded and argumentative and provides humor in the bloody battle scenes.

Macmorris - a fiery Irishman whom Fluellen offends.

Jamy - A Scotsman of few words, he performs valiantly in the battlefield against the French.

John Bates and Alexander Cour - soldiers in Henry V's army who Henry speaks to the night before the battle of Agincourt. They are representative of the common soldier and present views that are of differing opinions on the role of the king.

Michael Williams - A soldier who argues with the King over the role of the king and his right to wage war. Henry meets him the night he walks around the camp disguised as a commoner to talk to his men on the eve before Agincourt. Williams challenges the masked king to a duel if they both survive the battle the next day and they exchange gloves.

Pistol, Nym, Bardolph - old cronies of Sir John Falstaff. They are keen to gain from the French war and contribute to the comic relief. Pistol is the only one who survives the war while Nym and Bardolph are both hanged for crimes committed during the war against the French.

Boy - an upstanding young man who tries to separate himself from the rowdy antics of Falstaff's crowd. He refuses to comply with the unscrupulous tactics of Falstaff's crowd and makes very astute character judgments. He is killed when the French raid the supply tents of the English at Agincourt.

Montjoy, a herald - He is the go-between in the various ultimatumssent between the French and the English. In the end, he is humbled by the French defeat at Agincourt and asks permission for the French to bury their dead.

The Duke of Burgundy - he delivers a moving speech after the five-year war with France on the brutual and inhumane degradation of France after years of war.

The Duke of Orleans and The Duke of Bourbon - members of Charles's council and courtiers. They deride the English army and make light of the oncoming battle with them.

The Constable of France - he is responsible for the defense of France.

Rambures and Grandpre - two French lords.

The Governor of Harfleur - he is the Governor of the town besieged by the English.

Alice - Katharine's attendant who attempts to teach Katharine English despite her own misunderstanding of the language.

Hostess (Mistress Quickly) - she keeps a tavern in Eastcheap, much frequented by Nym and his pals. She is married to Pistol when he goes off to war and ends up dead from syphilis before he returns to England. She is notorious for her misuse of words.

Lords, Ladies, Officers, Citizens, Soldiers, Messengers and Attendants.


Protagonist :The protagonist of the play is Henry V, Shakespeare's own favorite king and the favorite of the English nation. He is a practical man who combines strength of character with a joyous humor, justice with bravery, dignity with simplicity, piety with martial enthusiasm. He is an ideal king in whom all good national qualities are seen in their highest perfection.
Antagonist: The Dauphin, the eldest son of the French King Charles VI, is the antagonist of this play. He is the moving spirit of the French court. He stupidly imagines that he would bring the English King in a chariot as a captive. However, he has underestimated the strength of his opponent.
Climax: Climax is reached in Act IV, Scene 5, in which the English score a decisive victory over the French at Agincourt and the French are in full flight. This is the scene in which the Dauphin, Orleans, Bourbon, Rambures and the Constable retire in great distress.
Outcome: The outcome of the play is beneficial for England. All the English demands are accepted by the French, including Henry's marriage to Katharine. Henry is recognized as heir to the throne of France. All wish that England and France may never again be enemies in war.

PLOT (Synopsis)

Since Henry V is part of the tetralogy that began with Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, this play shares many of the same characters as well as carries over many of the plot lines. One of the first public acts of the young King Henry is to carry out his father's advice to him which is to "busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels" and so quiet rebellion at home. He wants to claim the throne of France "with right and conscience." He secures from the Archbishop of Canterbury a declaration that states that the "Salic Law" barring women and their descendants from ascending the French crown could not be urged legally against his claims to titles "usurp'd from (him) and (his) progenitors. The King resolves, therefore, "by God's help ... to bend(France to (his) awe or break it all to pieces." His purpose is strengthened by the arrival of the French ambassadors who bring a reply from the Dauphin to Henry's demand for "certain dukedoms (in France) in the right of his great predecessor," King Edward the third", an insolent message that he "cannot revel into dukedoms there." In place of these territories, he receives an insulting gift of tennis balls. The angry King retorts that he will turn the Dauphin's tennis balls to gun-stones. He expedites his preparations for the invasion.
In London, the hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern reports to Falstaff's old cronies that "the King hath killed his heart" and that Falstaff has died of plague. Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph resolve to follow the King to Southampton and thence to France. In Southampton, on the point of sailing, Henry orders the execution of three English noblemen who have accepted French bribes to assassinate him. At the French palace the King and the Dauphin receive from the English a demand that the "crown and kingdom" be resigned to the English ruler.
Proof of King Henry's ability to unite all factions under his banner appears in the bravery displayed in the siege of Harfleur by Caption Fluellen, a Welshman, Caption Jamy, a Scot, and Caption Macmorris, an Irishman. Failing to receive help from the Dauphin, the Governor of the town yields to the English. Later, Henry and his men who are sick, underfed and war-worn, march towards Calais. They cross the Somme. At Agincourt Henry is confronted with a much larger French army under the Dauphin and the Constable of France.
To test the morale of his common soldiers, the young King goes in disguise around the camp. He converses with many and gathers a sense of his royal responsibilities. However, even in such an hour the spirit of the fun-loving Prince Hal breaks out in a prank that he plays on one of his men. In the opposite camp, the over-confident French leaders jest at the "beggar'd host" of their enemies. The Constable of France derisively sends a herald to King Henry to "mind (his) followers of repentance." However, in the battle that in the morning follows, the badly led French forces, though vastly superior in numbers and equipment to the English, are decisively defeated. The field of Agincourt is strewn with the corpses of French princes and nobles. Although a big victory for the English, the war continues for five more years. <>ddTowards the end of the war, Pistol is thoroughly cudgeled by Captain Fluellen for insulting the Welsh. He is forced to eat the Welsh leek that he had derided. To save himself from a possible worse fate-since both his cronies Nym and Bardolph have been hanged for theft, this knight of the "killing tongue and quiet sword" resolves to return to England. Through the friendly services of the Duke of Burgundy, the French King yields to the demands of King Henry. He grants him the hand of fair Katharine, his daughter. He acknowledges him as heir to the French crown. And from the union of the English King and the French Princess is born, a son "Henry the sixth, in infant bands crown'd king, of France and England" is born, thereby ending the period with the unification of the two countries both as a nation and a family.


The major theme of the play is that of patriotism. It has been rightly pointed out that the hero of the history plays is no particular character but represents England at that time. The greatness of England and her national spirit form the main theme of this play. Another main theme is the reformation of Henry's character from a callow and irresponsible youth to a just and reverent leader. In his youth he has spent his time in the company of thieves and rogues in ale-houses and in the haunts of vice. Henry V, however, projects a reformed Henry, one who understands the serious nature of ruling a kingdom.
The minor theme of the play is that of order reflected in Henry as well as in England as a whole. The many aspects of Henry's character all culminate in a dynamic yet stable king, who is a political strategist, a just ruler, and a fierce warrior. Shakespeare uses the French as a contrast to exemplify the theme of how disorder in the ruling family results in failure as well as disaster, both financially and socially.
An atmosphere of hostility produced by the conflict between the English and the French pervades in the first four acts of the play, yet reconciliation is achieved and peace restored between the two countries at the end. There is also a mood of reverence towards King Henry. He is an idealized ruler who has very few faults. Even his faults are often presented as another characteristic of a complex character but he never endangers his country or its people without good reason. The play begins in disharmony and ends in a note of harmony.


William Shakespeare is usually considered the greatest dramatist and finest poet the world has ever known. No other writer's plays and poetry have been produced so many times or in so many countries or translated into so many languages. One of the major reasons for Shakespeare's popularity is the variety of rich characters that he successfully creates, from drunkards and paid murderers to princes and kings and from inane fools and court jesters to wise and noble generals. Each character springs vividly to life upon the stage and, as they speak their beautiful verse or prose, the characters remind the viewers of their own personalities, traits, and flaws. Shakespeare also made his characters very realistic. The dramatist had an amazing knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, and his well-developed characters reflect this knowledge, whether it be about military science, the graces of royalty, seamanship, history, the Bible, music, or sports.
In Shakespeare's time, few biographies were written, and none of the literary men of the Elizabethan Age was considered important enough to merit a book about his life. The first portfolio of his works, collected as a memorial to Shakespeare by members of his own acting company, was not published until 1623, seven years after his death. His first biography was written one hundred years later. As a result, many of the facts of Shakespeare's life are unknown. It is known that he was born in Stratford-on-Avon in England, sometime in early 1564, for his Baptism is recorded on April 26 of that year. His mother Mary had eight children, with William being the third. His father, John Shakespeare, was a fairly prosperous glovemaker and trader who owned several houses in Stratford and became the town's mayor when Shakespeare was a boy. The young Shakespeare probably studied in the local grammar school and hunted and played sports in the open fields behind his home.
The next definite information about William Shakespeare is that the young man, at age 18, married Anne Hathaway, who was 26, on November 28, 1582. In 1583, it is recorded that Anne gave birth to their oldest child, Susanna, and that twins, Hamnet and Judith, were born to the couple in 1585. By 1592, the family was living in London, where Shakespeare was busy acting in plays and writing his own dramas. From 1592 to 1594, the plague kept most London theaters closed, so the dramatist turned to writing poetry during this period, and his poems, which were actually published unlike his plays, became popular with the masses and contributed to his good reputation as a writer. From 1594 to the end of his career, Shakespeare belonged to the same theatrical company, known first as Lord Chamberlain's Men and then as the King's Company. It is also known that he was both a leader and stockholder in this acting organization, which became the most prosperous group in London, and that he was meeting with both financial success and critical acclaim.
In 1954, Shakespeare was popular enough as an actor to perform before Queen Elizabeth. By 1596, he owned considerable property in London and bought one of the finest houses in Stratford, known as New Place, in 1597. A year later, in 1598, he bought ten percent of the stock in the Globe Theatre, where his plays were produced. In 1608, he and his colleagues also purchased The Blackfriars Theatre, where they began to hold productions during the winter, returning to the Globe during the summer months. Throughout the rest of his life, Shakespeare continued to purchase land, homes, and businesses. He obviously was a busy man between handling his business ventures, performing on the stage, and writing or collaborating on the thirty-seven plays that are credited to him.
Shakespeare's most productive years were from 1594 to 1608, the period in which he wrote all of his great tragedies, such as Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Romeo and Juliet. During these fourteen years, he furnished his acting company with approximately two plays annually. After 1608, it appears he went into semi-retirement, spending more time in Stratford and creating only five plays before his death on April 23, 1616. He was buried before the altar in the Stratford Church, where his body still lies today. Many literary students and visitors make a pilgrimage to this shrine each year in order to honor William Shakespeare, still recognized after 400 years as the world's greatest poet and dramatist.


The main authority for the history of Henry V was the second edition of Holinshed's Chronicles, published in 1587. Shakespeare also makes use of the play of The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth by an anonymous writer. The Dauphin's present of tennis balls is no doubt to be found in Holinshed while the episode of Pistol and the French soldier and the wooing scene in the last act come from the Famous Victories. The well-known simile of the "honey-bees" in Act I, Scene 2, is based on a passage in Lyly's Euphues. For the main incidents of the drama, Shakespeare follows the authority of Holinshed.
Yet in Henry V, Shakespeare has not simply put life into the dead bones of history, but has enlivened the action of the play by introducing comic characters (Bardolph, Nym, Pistol), by painting common soldiers (Bates, Court, Williams), and by delineating national characteristics-Irish, Scots, and Welsh (Macmorris, Captain Jamy and Fluellen), particularly the idiosyncrasies of Fluellen.
Of Shakespeare's innovations and inventions the audience may note six points. First comes the unmasking of the conspirators: Cambridge, Scroop and Gray. It is managed with exquisite dramatic art and a subtle sense of the effect of irony. Secondly, the Alice-Katharine scene, apart from being a comic interlude, prepares for the final appearance of Katharine in Act V. It is a prelude to the wooing scene and also hints at the French defeat. Thirdly, the scene (Act IV, Scene 1) in which the King goes around the English camp, reveals the King's bonhomie. It also reveals what the common soldiers think of their King and his responsibility. Fourth, in Act IV, Scene 5, Shakespeare has no account from Holinshed about bringing the Dauphin into the battle of Agincourt. The dramatic effect of contrast between Henry and the Dauphin is enhanced by this means. Fifth, pathetic touches are added to the account of the death of the Duke of Suffolk in Act IV, Scene 5. It brings out the actuality of the battle of Agincourt home to the minds of the audience. Finally the court scene is differently conceived. Sentiment and passion do not seem to be part of Henry's equipment. Instead, his courtship of Katharine seems to be directed by policy.



The Chorus invokes the 'Muse' to be present on the stage that depicts the heroic deeds of princes and to uphold King Henry's image as that of Mars, the Roman god of war. However, the audience should forgive the efforts to depict on the unworthy stage such great deeds since it can never recapture the magnificence of such deeds. The limitations of the stage will not permit the portrayal of the fields of France or the war at Agincourt. The Chorus, therefore, begs the audience to employ their imagination to see and hear the prancing horses, the sea and the forces of the two countries on the stage. The audience should also make the connections between the long intervals of time and the shifting of setting from France to England during the reign of King Henry, that the play has compressed into one hour. The Chorus supplies the information so that the audience can bridge the gaps in time and judge the play kindly.
Notes: The "Chorus" were originally created for ancient Greek plays, and were meant to represent ordinary citizen who comment on the action of the plays and interpret the moral issues involved and provide background information. In Shakespeare's day, however, it usually consisted of one actor only who wore a long, black, velvet cloak, spoke directly to the audience and took no part in the action of the play. In this play the Chorus is deployed for a different purpose. This Chorus has a speech to deliver before every Act and an Epilogue at the end of the play. He seems to do four different jobs. First of all, he stimulates the audience to imaginative collaboration. This enables them to visualize mentally the great castles and the battlefields and the majestic armies of England and France. Secondly he is supposed to arouse patriotic feelings about England in general and King Henry in particular. Thirdly, he is expected to create an exciting atmosphere. Finally, he bridges big jumps of time and distance by preparing the audience for the scenes that follow and by narrating events that have happened in between. In the Chorus preceding Act I the focus is on the first of the four functions. Here, the Chorus longs for "A kingdom for a stage, Princes to act," and apologizes for the inadequate substitutes to be presented. Because this play to King Henry is so involved and epic, the Chorus requests the audience to help out by using their imagination and to realize that the enormity of the events have been compressed and thereby somewhat diminished.

The play opens in the ante-chamber of the palace in London, where the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely are discussing a bill which has been presented in Parliament. The bill would deprive the church of most of its wealth. Since there has been civil strife, the bill has been forgotten but recently it has been brought up for discussion.
Both men hope the new King will reject it, for he has shown himself to be a devoted monarch deeply interested in the church's welfare. They discuss the changes that have occurred since Henry's youth when he was a feckless young man bent on only having a good time. Now he has matured into a responsible ruler and the churchmen are interested in swaying him to their interests. Canterbury has suggested that he should obtain revenues from France by claiming the crown that derived from Edward III, his great-grandfather. Therefore, he is going to persuade Henry to invade France. Finally, Canterbury says he must meet the king at four and leaves.
Notes: In the opening scene, the audience discovers the Archbishop's plan to gain the King's support for the church. The proposal to strip the church of a large part of its wealth and give it to the King was part of the anti-church campaign conducted by a group known as the Lollards. This group claimed among other things that the church was too concerned with material property (it owned a great deal of land) and should confine its interest to spiritual matters. From this scene, one gains an understanding of how involved the church was in economic and political affairs of the state as the two church leaders discuss ways to gain Henry's support for them without depriving the state of needed funds. The King has to make the final decision on the bill and is at present inclined to take the side of the church.
More important to the play, however, is the Archbishop's vivid account of Henry's conversion and his glowing description of the young king's great qualities. It stimulates our interest in the hero- King who is the central figure of the play. After his father's death, Henry metamorphisized from a brash, callow adolescent to a mature and prudent king. The Archbishop uses three metaphors to reveal the changes Henry has undergone. The first is the idea of the offending Adam. The reference is to the sinful human nature that the audience has inherited from the first sinner. This part was driven out of Henry's character in the same way Adam himself was driven out of the garden of Eden by God. The second metaphor is that of dirt swept away by a flood of water which means he underwent a spiritual conversion that washed away the vice and the third metaphor is that of the Hydra of Lerna, a mythical nine- headed monster that if its head was cut off, two more grew in its place. Hercules solved the problem by cutting off each head and thrusting a burning brand into the bleeding stump before the new head could appear. Here the Archbishop refers to how easily the prince's faults left him after he ascended to the throne. The emphasis on the king's virtuous traits prepares the way for one of the main themes that reveal Henry as an ideal Christian monarch who understands the ways of the world because he has experienced and rejected them.
In this scene the Archbishop of Canterbury is not merely the head of the church, but also a prominent political figure. He is indeed a crafty manipulator of event and is anxious to divert the King from the disputed bill that would ruin the church. He has himself suggested the renewal of hostilities against France and has even gone as far as to offer a large sum of money from church funds to help finance it. Although Henry is morally righteous, he is also vulnerable to this powerful man who will use his religion to acquire material goods.

In this scene set in the "presence chamber" Henry is not sure if he has a right to the French crown and is consulting with the Bishop and Archbishop. He refuses to start a war unless he is certain of his position. The Archbishop gives him a long and learned exposition as to why his claim is legitimate. He hands Henry a declaration that the "Salic Law " barring women and their descendants could not be used legally against his claims to titles "usurped from (him) and his progenitors." He proclaims the glory of such an expedition. Henry still hesitates, for it is possible that the Scots will invade England while he is gone as they have done in the past. The Archbishop is convinced that the government will continue to be run safely in his absence and gives him an eloquent and reassuring picture of a well-run country such as England comparing it to a community of bees, with each one doing his special work, from the ones that act as porters bringing in the honey to the singing masons building roofs of gold.
The King decides he will invade France and gives audience to an ambassador from the French prince, the Dauphin. The Dauphin has sent him a highly insulting gift. Instead of the valuable jewels that usually pass between Princes, he has sent him a box of tennis balls, an indiscreet reference to the King's reputation as a reveler when he was Prince Hal rather than the sober king he has become. The King is furious. In the previous play his father had said of him, "Being incensed, he's flint," and it is a cold and stony countenance that takes possession of King Henry as he promises to avenge the mockery of the French Prince and sends the ambassadors back to France and begins to prepare for war.
Notes: This scene may be divided into two parts; the first part deals with the King's consultation with the clergy and the nobles to decide if war should be declared. The Archbishop assures Henry that his claim is legal and just, and may be conscientiously made. Then Canterbury, Ely and Exeter appeal to the King's ambition. Westmoreland argues that the King "hath cause and means and right." Canterbury promises a "mighty sum "of money from the clergy. Henry prudently suggests that means must be taken to meet the Scots who would take advantage of the English being at war with France to invade the North. Canterbury suggests how this attack can be deflected and Henry makes up his mind to go to war.
Many traits in Henry's character are displayed here. The first is his sense of responsibility towards his soldiers whom he does not want to see suffer without good reason. He will not rashly awake the "sleeping sword of war" nor have people suffer and die unless there is good cause. He seeks justification for war rather than war for war's sake. The second trait is his sense of justice, as he will not put forward any illegal claim, only what is seen as England's right to rule France. He defers to the churchmen that what he is doing is right in the eyes of God and asks that his request for war be sanctioned which it is for ulterior reasons by the churchmen. In fact, the Archbishop gives such a garbled justification for war that it is hard to make sense of it and not just see it as a way to obscure the fact that the claim to the throne by Henry is a shaky one. The fourth trait is his statesmanship and prudence. He thinks about the consequences of war, the lives lost as well as the threat to the nation if he is abroad. The safety of England against Scottish invasion must be secured before war is declared against France. The Archbishop responds with the famous metaphor of the beehive where each person in society has a role in the state and can contribute to its well being. The fifth trait is his flair for action. His decision being made, he determines "to do or die." The sixth trait is his open and frank character. He would have the French ambassadors deliver their message "with frank and uncurbed plainness." Finally the audience notes his piety.
The second part of the scene shows his ability to act judiciously in light of the tactless gift from the Dauphin. When he is confronted by the gift of tennis balls, he could easily have lost his temper yet instead he defies his reputation as a hotheaded and imprudent youth by calmly delineating his course of action. It is a threat but it is veiled in eloquence. His fiery reply to the Dauphin is tempered by the reflection that all "lies within the will of God," to whom he will appeal. He declares that though his mind will be occupied in expediting his preparations, his thoughts towards "God will run before" i.e. take precedence of this preparations. In this scene, Henry comes off as being the ideal ruler: he has investigated all aspects of the upcoming conflict from a moral, political and human perspective and decides to go through with his original idea. Here he is seen using reason and logic as well as spiritual guidance for his decisions.



The fighting spirit of England has now taken fire. The armor divisions of England have a thriving trade making arms for the soldiers. Even the peasant class has sold lands to buy horses for the campaign. Still mindful of Crecy, they cast aside the frivolities of life. However, the French have been warned of these English preparations. Seeking to divert this purpose, they have employed three nobles-the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop of Masham and Sir Thomas Gray of Northumberland to to kill Henry on the eve of his departure to France. The King has come from London and is ready to sail from Southampton.
Notes: The Chorus again bridges the interval of time during which preparations for war go on in England and negotiations are continued with France. According to the chorus, a wave of patriotic feelings sweeps the country. The war-cry seems to evoke the most generous response. However, there is already the hint of conspiracy and the life of the King himself is threatened. The King is not unaware of it. If the reader's suspense is roused, he is confident too that the King knows how to deal with it.
The scene is presently shifting to Southampton, and then to France, for France is to be the scene of action. It should noted that the action of the play involves frequent violations of the unity of time and place. The business of the Chorus is to gloss over these violations and link up the scenes and acts.

In Eastcheap, Nym, one of the friends of Falstaff has become a corporal and Bardolph, another friend of Falstaff's, a lieutenant. The corporal is a little doubtful of his sword and says that "It will toast cheese." The first person he draws it on is Pistol who is even less valorous than he and is married to Mistress Quickly, a woman who was supposed to have married Nym. The whole crew hears the news that Falstaff is very ill and Mistress Quickly goes to nurse him. She is convinced that he is dying of sorrow and that he never recovered from King Henry's rejection of him. "The King has killed his heart." The fat old Knight will never be able to go on the expedition to France. However, his trio of old friends plans to accompany the army and make as much money out of it as they can.
Notes: The scene provides a comic relief to the tense war-like atmosphere, produced by the serious matter of policy and war that is engaging the minds of the King and his courtier yet at the same time this scene as others like it shows how war affects the lower classes and how it is perceived differently by them.
The scene introduces such characters as Nym, Pistol and Bardolph, all of whom are old cronies of Prince Hal when he was a wild youth. Now that Hal is King, his friends, especially Falstaff, feel rejected. In fact, Falstaff is ill, supposedly of a broken heart due to Henry's rejection of him. Speculation of the upcoming war and its consequent victims come to light in Nym's speech, "It must be as it may: though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod."
Henry will rely on men such as these to fight his war against France and they will be the ones to suffer and die. That their attitude towards war is mercenary should not come as a shock as none of them will get the glory due them, but will suffer the most in combat. Therefore, money becomes a reason to go to war not lofty ideals as the prologue of this act suggests.
The altercation that occurs between Nym and Pistol is so ridiculous that it comments on the supposedly just reasons that Henry has decided to go to war in the previous act. These are just as insubstantial yet cloaked behind nationalistic ideals and rhetoric as Pistol's extravagant use of language reveals here. Henry's claim to the French throne is illegitimate in France where Salique Law forbids that the throne be ascended through a female heir. This was created in order to prevent non-French national to gain access through the crown by marrying into French nobility. Henry's bid to the French throne is through Edward II who married Queen Isabella; because of this law, his claim is unjustified although the Archbishop claims to have found a loophole.

At Southampton, the port of embarkation for France, King Henry has discovered that the three commissioners he sent to France have been bribed by French gold to murder him. He calls them into his presence and using deft political strategizing allows them to commit themselves to death because of their treacherous natures. Immediately, he sets sail for France leaving a loyal and united country behind him.
Notes: In this scene once again, the king is seen as a just and astute leader, who knows much about human behavior. Aware of the plot against his life, Henry uses an interesting technique of allowing the traitors to set their own punishment by asking them what punishment a particular offender of the king should get. When all three unanimously say Death, he gets the conspirators to convict themselves by their own mouths. It is a most suitable use of dramatic irony. The conspirators are confounded when they are most assured of success and believe themselves to be least suspected. When the three conspirators demand the man's punishment, they are attempting to show concern for the king but instead their deception is accentuated.
It is at this moment that the King hands them their commissions, which prove to be a statement of charges against them. They confess their crime and appeal for mercy. They are not entitled to mercy since they denied the same mercy to the unfortunate wretch.
This scene is most notable for Henry's deft handling of the traitors as well as his ability to put personal loyalties aside and act as a ruler. That he had the men commit themselves to death absolves him of sentencing them to death. Because they were friends, he is deeply hurt yet frames their treachery within a political rather than personal cause. For such a just king it is difficult to send them to their deaths yet he does so for the welfare of the nation.

The scene brings together again Pistol, Dame Quickly, Nym, Bardolph and others who are all lamenting the death of Falstaff. The manner of his death is described by Dame Quickly. A little before death he seemed to be groping in his senses and cried "God" three or four times. Bardolph especially regrets the passing away of Falstaff who always kept him well supplied with wine. They are now preparing to leave for France. Pistol talks to Dame Quickly and begs her to look after his "chattels" and his "movables" and behave cautiously.
Notes: A pathetic interest attaches to the scene because of the death of Sir John Falstaff, a boon companion of King Henry in his wilder days, and forgotten since the latter's accession. The audience does not know how he took his banishment from the court. However, he was certainly brokenhearted.
Shakespeare does not bring Falstaff before the audience yet his death is symbolic of the death of Henry's fun-loving and carefree days and that this scene follows the heels of one of serious political intrigues reveals that Henry has moved beyond his beer-swilling days and is now a political tactician with great responsibilities. Falstaff himself seems to have repented for his folly when he cries out for God on his deathbed.

The French King, alarmed at the coming English attack, orders defenses to be prepared. He tells the Dauphin to prepare for an attack but the Dauphin thinks that the attack is not serious, since the English King is so foolish. The King and the Constable disagree with him. The King acknowledges that Henry comes from warrior stock and that they should be on the defense. The Duke of Exeter arrives with a message from Henry, demanding the French crown. He has a contemptuous message for the Dauphin as well. The French King promises to reply the following day. Exeter urges to make haste, since Henry has already landed in France.
Notes: This scene is notable for its revelation of the ineptness of the French court and the divisiveness that will lead to its downhill. The King of France, as it appears, is supporting a cautious policy about going to war as he knows that Henry is more powerful than the Dauphin gives him credit. However, the Dauphin advocates the war policy and dismisses Henry as a fun-loving and careless rogue. Both recognize the necessity of organizing the defense of the country. The Dauphin is without practical experience. He is rash and headstrong and is a contrast to the evenhanded Henry. Perhaps he will be found wanting in action. He treats the English invasion lightly. However to his father, the English victories of Cressy and Portiers are too near to be forgotten. The Dauphin certainly underrates the English in the same arrogance of spirit that led him to send a present of tennis-balls to King Henry. Ironically, the seriousness, which he fails to discover in King Henry, is sadly lacking in him.
What is interesting is that Henry has managed to put the declaration of war into French hands. By claiming that France is now under English rule, Henry makes it appear as if it will be France who are the aggressors and unwilling to capitulate to what is supposedly England's land. If they defend themselves, they are also putting their people's lives in danger. Henry once again skillfully manages to have his adversaries self-indict themselves and take responsibility for their actions.



The Chorus describes the sailing of the English fleet from Southampton and the siege of Harfleur by the English army. The ambassador returns with an offer from the French King: the hand of his daughter Katharine, with some dukedoms as dowry. The offer is rejected, and the English cannons bombard Harfleur.
Notes: The Chorus fills in the time from the sailing of the King's army to the siege of Harfleur. Besides filling in the lapsed time since the prior Act, the chorus asks the audience to imagine King Henry embarking at Southampton with his well-equipped army. The sun is shining brilliantly on his royal flags that stream from the mastheads. Whistles are blowing, the ship-boys are running about their tasks and the sails are filling with wind. The audience is asked to use their imagine and pretend they are standing on the shore, watching this royal fleet dancing like a city on the waves, on its voyage to Harfleur. The audience is invited to follow its fleet and leave England "as dead midnight still," as the best cavaliers and even youths, hardly old enough for the fight, have all sailed with the fleet. The troops land in France and commence the siege of Harfleur, their huge guns gaping menacingly at the town. Primarily, the Chorus presents a romanticized view of military action with its images of glory and patriotism and rouses the audience to engage in the scene it is depicting.

King Henry conducts the siege-operations. A breach has already been made in the wall of the besieged city. Henry calls upon his soldiers to advance to the breach or close it with the dead. The King bids them to reject all gentleness of nature, put on the grim look of war, and brave themselves to a mighty effort. He recalls the heroic examples of their ancestors who fought on the soil of France and did not rest until they had more enemies to kill. Let them not dishonor their mothers. Let them follow the example of their fathers. The King appeals to the yeomen to show their traditional courage. He already sees their eyes flashing fire and their eagerness to engage in battle.
Notes: A month has passed since the ships have sailed from Southhampton and the first three scenes of this Act cover the siege of Harfleur and begins with a soliloquy from Henry V rousing his troops to battle. His speech follows smoothly from the Chorus prologue that sets the scene for battle although his image of war is not glorified but reveals the violent and dehumanizing aspects of it. Here Henry comes off as a great leader and orator as he incites his men to battle and to take on the masks of war even if it means being bestial, "But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger." If what it takes is acting like animals to win the battle, then the men must do so.

On another part of the battlefield, Nym, Bardolph, Pistol, and Boy are engaged in discussing the merits of war. Inspired by Henry's speech, Bardolph yells out, "On! On! On! On to the breach!" although the others hold him back saying they might be killed. The Boy goes on to recount how Nym, Pistol and Bardolph have made off with fortunes from the war they are fighting and have not discarded their thieving ways. He leaves to seek better company and do battle for the army, which is the reason why they are there. Captain Fluellen and Gower enter and discuss the Duke of Gloucester's plan to dig tunnels underneath Harfleur. Fluellen does not think very highly of the Irish captain Macmorris. MacMorris and Jamy enter from another point and they discuss the stopping of the digging of tunnels. Fluellen attempts to incite an argument with MacMorris but MacMorris ignores him until Fluellen insults his Irish ethnicity. The two are about to have a fight when the alarm is called and they proceed to battle.
Notes:The siege of Harfleur is continued in this scene and shows a scene in dire contrast to Henry's speech. Here the many different types of men employed in the war are shown and subsequently diverse attitudes. The first three men are petty criminals and swaggerers, Bardolph, Nym and Pistol. Bardolph takes up the cry, "on, on to the breach!" but they all three linger afraid of actually fighting until Fluellen drives them forward. The boy who is attending on the three has found them out and reveals that he too is not into war and wishes himself back in London. However, compared to the other three who have been attempting to make whatever fortunes they can out of their situation, the boy shows himself to be more idealistic and inclined towards Henry's patriotic sentiments. The three fellows are brought in here not only to provide some comic relief, but also to disclose the harsher and unpleasant aspects of war, the financial remuneration that is often the underlying base for wars, whether it is among petty criminals or within the institution of the church. Although these men are unscrupulous, they also understand the nature of war and the waste of lives that it involves.
The other characters present a motley crew of Henry's military subordinates as well as represent the English colonies of Ireland, Scotland and Wales yet they are more inclined to side with Henry's battle cry and see themselves as worthy soldiers who are dedicated to the cause of war. Their speech patterns as well as prejudices come to light in this exchange especially in the character of Fluellen who makes a disparaging remark to the Irish captain, MacMorris. This shows the rivalry between the countries that have been united by Henry's venture.

Henry gives the Governor of Harfleur a final chance to surrender or else he will storm the town and destroy it. He draws a vivid picture of murders, rapes, and looting that will occur when the city is sacked as well as the deaths of people from mothers to children. The Governor replies that the military help expected from the Dauphin has not come and he therefore, must surrender the town, which is no longer defensible. Henry orders Exeter to hold Harfleur against the French. He himself will retreat to Calais, since sickness is spreading among his troops and winter is coming on.
Notes:The capture of Harfleur marks a definite victorious stage in the campaign against France and reveals King Henry's oratory skills as well as he colorfully depicts the ruin of Harfleur if the governor does not concede defeat. His rhetoric is harsh and unyielding as he demands that the governor give up his town or else risk being brutally taken over by "the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart, In liberty of bloody hand, shall range/ With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass/Your fair fresh virgins and your flow'ring infants." This is the cruel nature of war, which makes men immoral and animalistic, guided not by reason but by desire and greed. Henry is warning the governor that this is what will occur and by conceding defeat, the governor will save the inhabitants of his city the fury of the soldier's lust, which Henry will not be able to control.
There is a hint in this scene that the King has to combat on outbreak of disease in the camp, to which is added the hardship of the approaching winter. Therefore, this victory will energize his soldiers for what is to come. His self-possession, indefatigable energy, solicitude for the welfare of his soldiers, and unfaltering pursuit of his ambitious designs are suggested in this scene more than anywhere else, whereas the Dauphin comes off as being irresponsible and not as adept in military affairs as he has not even provided Harfleur with reinforcements.

In the palace at Rouen, the French King's daughter, Katharine takes lessons in English from Alice, a lady attending to her. As an instructor, Alice has to supply the English equivalent to a French word although she does not know the language very well herself. After Katherine has learned the English equivalents to parts of the body, she repeats them to Alice and is far from correct. However, Alice encourages her by saying that she will do quite well in English and praises the aptitude of her pupil highly.
Notes:Besides introducing the audience to the character of Katherine, who will eventually be King Henry's wife, this scene is significant for several other reasons. First it is necessary to fill up the interval between scene 3 and 5 for the passage of time. In scene 5, the audience learns that Henry is on the march for Calais and has passed the Somme. Secondly, all the Frenchmen in the play do not speak English and therefore this scene adds a comic element to the misapplication of English that pervades the play. It seems natural to represent Katharine as learning English, for she knows well that the question of a marriage between her and Henry has been already a subject of discussion. Thirdly, this scene adds a light touch to the heavier war scenes before and after it. Also this play is peculiarly void of female characters and therefore, Shakespeare takes the opportunity of introducing the French princess as being willing to marry the King of England which puts her in a good light as well as makes the invasion of her country less of a violation than an invitation for unification of the two countries.
The French dialogue itself does not need to be translated as the actors themselves will convey the confusion and difficulties and misuse of translating English into French and the scene is meant to reveal the charming ways of the French king's adolescent daughter and acts as a transition to the next scene that takes place in the palace of the Rouen but deals with the heavier issues at hand in the play.

The French King and his nobility express their displeasure over the English army's advances into France without much opposition. They bemoan Normandy, an area of France that Henry has defeated, and the Dauphin comments that the women of the court are commenting on the effeteness of the French army and their willingness to have sex with the English soldiers in order to bear warriors. Talk turns to castigating the English army and of taking Henry prisoner. He thinks that when Henry sees the French army, he will surrender. The King orders that the whole French army be sent to fight the English except for the Dauphin whom he wants with him.
Notes:Overconfidence and hollow threats seem to be the besetting the French nobles as they discuss what to do about the English army's advances into French territory. The King himself would have favored more cautious dealing with King Henry, but he is not eager to forget the previous war. His thinking is ruled more by vengeance than reason. The Dauphin continues to be supercilious about the abilities of Henry as a serious military leader despite the French losses. Their miscalculation of the determination of Henry and the fighting power of his army, however limited in number, is obvious although they continue to deride Henry's army and predict their downfall due to illness and disease. To a Renaissance audience, the irony of these comments is not lost, as they already knew the outcome despite the hardships that the English arm confronted. Lack of seriousness and united counsel in the French court may be contrasted with the settled policy and determination of Henry.

Fluellen has been in action under the Duke of Exeter, fighting to take over a bridge, where Pistol has also been present. Back at the English camp, Fluellen meets Gower and extols the Duke as being an excellent leader and also reveals that Pistol is a gallant fighter. Pistol enters the scene and asks Fluellen to intercede with Exeter on behalf of Bardolph, who has been sentenced to death for robbing a holy plate that holds the host from a church. Fluellen refuses and Pistol takes offense and leaves. Gower explains to Fluellen what kind of man Pistol is. Fluellen reports to the King on the situation at the bridge but the King does not pardon Bardolph and says that the English must act in accordance to what the local law dictates and must not transgress civility, therefore he condones the execution of Bardolph. Meanwhile, the French herald Montjoy brings a message demanding Henry's surrender and ransom. In reply, Henry admits that his army is small and weakened by sickness, but refuses to surrender, saying that his army will continue its march, and will fight to the finish. The English army marches on towards the bridge.
Notes:Further progress of the campaign in France is reported and more victories are shown belonging to the English, such as the bridge captured by the Duke of Exeter from the French. Much extolling of soldiers is displayed in this scene although it is offset by the offense of Bardoloph. Having stolen a holy object from a church, he is now being sentenced to death as local law demands. Despite Pistol's pleading his case to Fluellen and then King Henry, Bardolph is executed as a lesson to the English army not to disobey orders of the King as well as a civil code of conduct during war. Having known Bardolph, King Henry does not seem bothered in the least to condemn his former drinking buddy to death. Pistol is enraged by this act yet Henry sets a precedent: that all offenders must be cut off, thereby reinforcing his judicious abilities as a ruler. This scene is similar to an earlier one when the King discovered traitors among his courtiers and managed to avoid being responsible for their deaths by invoking a nobler cause for the death: the safety of the nation. Here he invokes the need for civility amongst a rather barbaric atmosphere of war, which to some may seem hypocritical, as war is often brutal and uncivil. Here Bardolph has gone against French law and must suffer the consequences.
When the King receives the message from the French King, his own modest but spirited reply re-affirms his determination to conquer France even though he realizes that his army is not up for it and will suffer casualties. This self-effacement and remorse is in striking contrast to the arrogant demands made by the French King and his son.

It is the eve of the battle at Agincourt in the French camp and Dauphin and his fellow nobles boast and jest over the next day's battle. They delight in tearing apart the English and making fun of them and their wilful ways. To them victory is assured.
Notes:An obvious contrast is made between the seriousness and the determination of the English and the frivolity and bravado that characterize the Dauphin and the French courtiers. They seem to be of the opinion that their brave show, the splendor of their armor, the trappings of their well-bred horses, and the mere number of their fighting men will strike terror into the hearts of the English. Either they are incapable of taking the matter seriously or they seem to be bluffing. Rather than rousing the troops as Henry does, here the Dauphin extolls the equipment of war, its horses and armor, rather than their cause which is to defend their country from invasion, a noble enough reason to battle, yet the significance of what they are doing is lost on the Dauphin. The scathing remarks about the English army take on a deep tone of irony as the Renaissance audience knew what a brutal battle Agincourt was and how excessive were the casualties. Yet here the French treat it as lightly as if they were on a hunt. What fatuous preparation is this to meet the English foe!



The Chorus describes the camps of the two adversaries by night with its firelight, sentries and noises. The French wait impatiently for dawn, playing at dice. The English sit seriously by their fires contemplating their peril. Henry goes around the camp in disguise, encouraging his soldiers. He raises their morale by his own calm and cheerfulness. The Chorus apologizes for the inadequacy of its representation of the battle of Agincourt, which is to follow.
Notes: Except in this Act, the Chorus in Henry V usually announces intervals of space and time that are quite lengthy -- as the journey from London to Southampton, or from Southampton to Harfleur - yet here it is the night before the great battle of Agincourt. Descriptions of preparations within the two camps render a picture of business and reflection. Here the Chorus prepares the audience for war and in turn creates suspense. This Chorus serves to show that Shakespeare introduced this device, not simply for the sake of bridging intervals of time and space but to create dramatic contrast between the two camps and elicit more sympathy for Henry who walks from camp to camp encouraging his sick and tired men to war.
Here Shakespeare relies upon the epic poet's method. No scene in the drama paints so vividly a portrait of pre-war tension as a few lines in this Chorus.

At the English camp, shortly before dawn, Henry borrows a cloak to disguise himself and goes around incognito. He encounters Pistol who does not recognize him and they have a discussion about the king and Fluellen, whom Pistol would like to "knock his leek about his pate." He also overhears Fluellen and Gower talk about the upcoming war. He meets three ordinary soldiers: Bates, Court and Williams, whom he argues with about the situation of the army and the responsibility of the King to his soldiers. Henry and Williams quarrel and later exchange gloves to be worn in their caps after the battle. Williams undertakes to challenge the wearer of his glove and give him a box on the ear. In a soliloquy Henry meditates on the hard lot of the King and his great responsibilities he takes on that allow little rest. His only advantage over ordinary men is that he must follow protocol, which is worthless. Erpingham arrives to say that Henry's nobles are hunting for him. Henry sends Erpingham to collect them at his tent. In a prayer, Henry asks God to give his soldiers courage, and not to punish him for his father's seizure of the crown. Gloucester arrives, and they leave for Henry's tent.
Notes: This scene is significant from the point of view of Henry's character as it reveals Henry as being more insecure than he shows in public and that he is anxious about the point he is at - on the eve of battle, which may or may not have a legitimate claim. The scene precedes the battle of Agincourt and Henry goes round the camp to encourage every soldier with his smile and word of cheer. The King reveals a gracious personality and solicitude for his subjects.
With true dramatic insight and profound knowledge of human nature, Shakespeare does not simply turn the King's rounds into a mere visit of inspection, but allows the audience to gain an understanding of the common soldiers' view of the matter as well as witness the doubts and insecurities that rack Henry as he prepares for battle. Although he is determined to fight to the finish, he is unsure how his subjects feel and so elicits a general response of their attitudes towards him as well as the upcoming battle by disguising himself as a commoner. Henry's former affiliation with the lower classes is shown here in his "walkabout." Despite his ascension to the crown, Henry can communicate with the people without pretense or airs although he does attempt to justify his actions as king rather accept the criticism with aplomb. This is in dire contrast to the French nobles whose discourse centers around the machinery of war and ignores the human involvement.
The exchange between Pistol and the King is lighthearted and a prelude to the heavier conversation that occurs between Henry and the three commoners, William, Bates, and Alexander Court. Each of them expounds on various aspects of war and the responsibilities the king has to his subjects. Although they are loyal subjects, they wonder if the king, like them, wishes he were somewhere else. They discuss the possibility of their death and wonder whether it is worth it in the end. But it is Williams, the main antagonist in the discussion, who arouses Henry's anger in a discussion over the responsibilities of the monarch and dubious nature of the causes of war. Because Henry has managed to avert responsibility for most of his actions throughout the play by being a political strategist, he is vexed over Williams' harsh indictment of the king and the responsibility he must bear if the cause they are fighting for is not good. He defends the king as not having to bear the responsibility of his subjects just as a father cannot bear the responsibilities of his son's misconduct but his analogy falls short despite his assertion that "every subject's duty is the king's; but his soul is his own." The more aggressive he becomes in defending his position, the weaker it becomes. Although Henry wants authority, he does not want the responsibility that comes with it. Here is a sign not of a weak king but a callow one. Not yet a father or husband, Henry still has to mature as an adult to understand the obligations that a ruler has to his people. Finally, with the argument at an impasse, the two decide to have a duel after the battle next day and exchange gloves to put in their hats.
Then follows a soliloquy in which the anguished soul of Henry is laid bare, as he explores the responsibility of the king and the hardships that result from such a role. He also delineates the crime his father committed and how he is seeking retribution for this crime through being a just and honorable king although he knows that he cannot fully right wrongs and that the universe will ultimately seek divine retribution for the crimes his family committed. His ambitions are well-intentioned and noble and he wants to bring England the glory and honor it deserves. A political tactician as well as a noble and just man, Henry gains much audience sympathy in this first scene of Act IV.

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.

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.

On the field of battle a French soldier has surrendered to Pistol, whom he thinks is of a much higher status than he actually is. Confusion occurs because the Frenchman speaks no English, and Pistol speaks no French. With the aid of the Boy as interpreter, Pistol spares the life of the Frenchman for a ransom of two hundred crowns. The Boy delivers a soliloquy on the empty bravado of Pistol, who has managed to outlive Bardolph and Nym although they were more daring and ready to die for England than he. He also reveals that English equipment is defended only by boys and that his life is in danger.
Notes:The scene provides another episode of comic relief while also undercutting the very noble and serious sentiments that Henry delivered before the battle. Pistol, a light-hearted fellow, who is only out for profit in this war shows himself to be pompous enough to persuade a Frenchman that he is of noble birth and threatens him with death. That Pistol was able to catch a Frenchman reveals how inept the French army is as he is probably the least likely to involve himself in fighting. The French soldier appears ridiculous when he bows before Pistol and begs for his life although Pistol's arrogant and cavalier behavior is somewhat reminiscent of the French nobles' and therefore it appears not pretentious but normal to the Frenchman.
According to the Boy, who is quite astute at figuring out these lesser characters' motivations, Pistol is a greater coward than Bardolph and Nym, yet he has managed to survive while they have died. This is an ironic commentary on the nature of war and its inability to predict who will survive and who will not based on courage and loyalty to England.
The scene serves another important purpose as Shakespeare makes fools parody the actions of the great. Here, in the ridiculous dialogue between Pistol and his French Prisoner, the action and motives of Henry's invasion of France are parodied. The war is a mercenary war cloaked in the rhetoric of noble causes. Pistol will have his ransom of two hundred crowns, if not, death to his captive. Henry will have the whole France, if not, France shall perish.

On the battlefield the French ranks have been broken, and the French nobility express their shame. There are still enough Frenchmen in the field to win by sheer numbers, if only there were any order, but all is confusion. The noblemen throw themselves back into the battle, in order to die rather than survive in such shame.
Notes: This scene shows that the French lords' bravado has now turned to shame. Although they outnumber the English, the French have been outfought and express their remorse. This scene serves as a comeuppance for the French who were supercilious and disparaging towards the English. For their arrogance, the nobles will now die in a battle they should have won.

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.

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.

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.
Notes: 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.



The Chorus informs the audience that once again they must imagine events that will occur after Agincourt. Henry goes to Calais and returns to England where he is given a triumphal welcome. The audience is further informed that the Holy Roman Emperor visits England on behalf of France to try to arrange a peace but is unsuccessful and so Henry returns to France.
Notes: This Chorus serves two purposes here. First of all, it shows the passage of time between Act IV and V (the years 1415-17). Secondly, it urges the audience to imagine what is impossible or unnecessary to represent on the stage.
The Chorus begs the indulgence of the audience for not being able to portray on the stage things as they really are. The audience is asked to imagine the King proceeding to Calais and then crossing the Channel. On the English beach huge crowds gather to greet the victor, and he moves on to London. Although the principal citizens desire to have his helmet and sword borne before him through the city, Henry is "free from vainness and self-glorious pride." He forbids such pomp and circumstance. Even so the Lord Mayor, the best citizens, and all the people flock to give him a royal welcome. His welcome is such that it might be best compared to the one that would be accorded to the Earl of Essex returning victorious from Ireland where he had gone to quell a rebellion.
The Chorus then mentions Henry's sojourn in London, the attempt on the part of Sigismund to negotiate between England and France and Henry's return to France. Lastly, the Chorus asks our pardon for abridging the time into such a small compass and invites the audience to imagine that the audience is back again in France.

In the English camp in France, Fluellen is still wearing a leek in his cap, although St. David's Day, a Welsh national holiday, is past. He explains to Gower that Pistol has mocked his leek, and that he is going to teach him a lesson. Fluellen beats Pistol with a cudgel and makes him eat the leek. Gower reproaches Pistol for his malice and cowardice. Left alone, Pistol reveals that his wife is dead from syphilis and that he has nowhere to go. He decides to return to England and live as a pimp and pickpocket. He will pretend that the wounds that Fluellen has given him are war-wounds.
Notes The war between France and England lasted for five more years after the battle of Agincourt and took its toll on the English population. That victory is undermined by this scene where the repulsive Pistol, who has managed to scrape through the war unscathed, now has his downfall. The scene focuses on the humiliation of Pistol and seems to serve the purpose of poetic justice although some sympathy is solicited on hearing about the death of his wife and the loss of all his friends. He is the sole survivor of the group that Falstaff headed and that Henry cavorted with and his demise is as unsavory as many that went before him. He will end up the way he began, as a thief.
All his boasting is knocked out of him. The French wars, from which he expected to reap a rich harvest, have proved to be his undoing. He is the last member of Falste>