Read the Exercise Background, regarding Shakespeare’s Henry V, on page 352-353 (8th Ed.) (Page 335-336 in 7th Ed.)
Read the speech (below) and/or view the video portrayal at:
(Optional) more background on the battle can be found here:
Answer the following three questions in 1-3 paragraphs each:
(1) What types of power does Henry exert in this speech? Give specific examples of each type.
(2) Interestingly, Henry had been a notoriously wayward youth before turning his life around and living up to his royal responsibilities. In what ways might knowledge of his past tend to increase or decrease his referent power?
(3) In Shakespeare’s play, of course, Henry’s speech inspires his soldiers to almost impossible victory. You may or may not find it inspiring, but you should be able to see why audiences have long praised it as sufficiently stirring to account for such an improbable achievement. What elements of the speech do the most to make it inspirational? If you yourself find it inspiring, explain why. If you don’t, explain why not.
This text is taken from Shakespeare, William, Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3, The Riverside Shakespeare.
Characters: Gloucester, Bedford, Westmoreland, Exeter, Salisbury, and York. (These are Henry’s noblemen, now his army officers, most of them also his cousins.) Henry V, King of England, also called Harry. Montjoy, also called Herald (a messenger from the French King).
Gloucester: Where is the King?
Bedford: The King himself is rode to view their battle.
Westmoreland: Of fighting men they have full threescore thousand.
Exeter: There’s five to one; besides, they are all fresh.
Salisbury: ‘tis a fearful odds.
Westmoreland: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
King Henry: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.
If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honor.
God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach for this fight,
Let him depart, his passport shall be made,
and crowns for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand at tiptoe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say, “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day until the end of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here;
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Salisbury: My sovereign lord, bestow yourself with speed.
The French are bravely in their battles set,
And will with all expedience charge on us.
King Henry: All things are ready, if our minds be so.
Westmoreland: Perish the man whose mind is backward now!
King Henry: Thou dost not wish more help from England, coz?
Westmoreland: God’s will, my liege, would you and I alone,
Without more help, could fight this royal battle!
King Henry: You know your places. God be with you all!
[Enter Montjoy.] Montjoy: Once more I come to know of thee, King Harry,
If for they ransom thou wilt now compound,
Before thy most assured overthrow.
King Henry: Who hath sent thee now?
Montjoy: The Constable of France.
King Henry: I pray thee bear my former answer back:
Bid them achieve me, and then sell my bones.
Good God, why should they mock poor fellows thus?
Let me speak proudly: tell the Constable
We are but warriors for the working-day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirched
With rainy marching in the painful field;
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim.
Go thou, Herald, save thou thy labor.
Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald,
They shall have none, I swear, but these my joints:
Which if they have as I will leave ‘um them,
Shall yield them little, tell the Constable.
Montjoy: I shall, King Harry. And so fare thee well;
Thou never shalt hear herald any more.
York: My lord, most humbly on my knee I beg the leading of the vaward.
King Henry: Take it, brave York. Now, soldiers, march away,
And how thou pleasest, God, dispose the day!