10 October 2009
I am done with the Shakespeare Challenge! And i finished it up with my favorite of the plays i've read so far. Henry V got a 6! I know that i'll continue on to Henry VI sometime soon, maybe if i get to go back to Louisiana for Thanksgiving.
It's a very manly play. It begins with Harry the King discussing with his advisors whether or now he has a legal and moral right to France. He then uncovers a plot of treason and deals harshly with the lords who conspired with France against him. The English sail to France and have a few victories before they come to face the majority of the French force at Agincourt. Harry's forces are outnumbered and tired and the French are fresh. Everyone, on both sides, seems to expect an English defeat.
This play is the one with the St. Crispin's Day speech. Wikipedia's entry on the play is rather funny, as essentially it says every epic speech by a leader before a battle in any movie ever is drawn from the Shakespearean speech. That is a bit of a stretch i'd say. It's a fabulous speech though. Harry rallies his troops and they defeat 8000 French troops while only loosing about 30 Englishmen.
In the final part, as the various lords negotiate the peace, Harry courts the princess of France, Katherine. it is funny and tender but I can't forget that it's mostly politics. Kate could be ugly, lame and idiotic and Harry would still need to cement his claim to France by marrying her. However, she consents and the play ends with peace.