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Extra info for Henry V by William Shakespeare
It is a remarkable undermining of the epic tradition from within the play. It should make an audience, or the reader, stand back from the action and see what is happening in a fresh perspective. Shakespeare is subtly doing something he will practise throughout the play: presenting a proud, patriotic, noble view of Henry and what he stands for and, simultaneously, questioning it. One should not be allowed to drive out the other. Bardolph is not meant to undercut the king - he is far too unworthy to carry our conviction - but his ribald use of Henry's call to arms should make us see the attack on Harfleur from a different point of view.
Like a parasite, he battens on those nobler but less fortunate than himself, just as Falstaff does with Co Ie vile of the Dale at the Battle of Gaultree Forest in 2 Henry IV, IV. iii. The humour, mainly bawdy, is associated with the dishonourable, with the rotten underbelly of this 'famous victory'. Act IV, Scene vii Summary In sharp contrast to the last lines of the preceding scene, IV. viii starts ",ith Fluellen's announcement that the baggage boys have been killed. Fluellen, in a sequence of speeches, draws a complicated comparison between Henry's virtues and those of Alexander.
Commentary After Hamlet's, 'To be, or not to be', this is perhaps the most famous speech in all Shakespeare. Its rhetoric seems of a piece with the immediately preceding Chorus for it has something of the same hyperbolic quality. We have become so used to 'imitating the action of the tiger' that this image seems more rational than, in fact, it is. Look at the description of the eye (10-11). There is surely an exaggeration here that comes close to parody. The violence of the language almost does violence to the description.