William Shakespeare’s Henry VShakespeare’s plays can be divided into three distinct categories:histories, romances and comedies. Henry the fifth is a history.
Henry V is the last of four plays by William Shakespeare which tellsof the rise of the house of Lancaster. It was written in 1599 but isset in 1415, two years after the death of his father and Henry hasmade a favourable impression on his courtiers and the clergy. He hasconstantly been encouraged to seize the throne of France with thesupport of the Archbishop of Canterbury. When the King of Franceresponds with a mocking gift of tennis balls it presents Henry withthe perfect excuse to begin the invasion.
The invasion ends up in triumph but Henry still had more to do. In1420 Henry returns to France on peace terms. His demands were granted,one of which was the hand in marriage of Katherine, the Dauphin’sdaughter and subsequently Henry is made the heir to the French crown.
But was this play a pageant or a play? Did it actually display historyor was it just a showcase of brave Britain as a story.
The story of Henry V is not simply an exert from the imagination ofWilliam Shakespeare. Many historical details of the play were takenfrom Raphael Holinshed’s the Chronicles of England, Scotland andIreland. Shakespeare also made some references to an anonymous playdating from 1594, The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth. However itis understood that this play was so poor that Shakespeare went to anearlier better version which was the inspiration for the FamousVictories of Henry V. It has been claimed that some incidents in HenryV can be traced to other spec…
…husiastic and watching a play was an excitingexperience. I think that they would have preferred the play to beperformed in the way that Shakespeare had wrote to a more historicversion because the historic version would have many negative thingsin it. This would have probably made the audience a bit more negative.The main reason that Shakespeare wrote it the way he did was that itwould’ve made the audience feel positive and happier. It made themthink that they were learning about the history of their country whileat the same time having a good time. It would’ve also given them anescape from their dreary, laborious lives.
To conclude, Shakespeare’s Henry V is more pageant than play but forthe right reasons. But we must ask ourselves, if Henry V only reallydisplayed history would it not just be a documentary?