Henry V (c. 1599)


Henry V (c. 1599)


Arguably Shakespeare's most patriotic play, Henry V centers on the charismatic yet cunning king, dubbed ‘This star of England’ (Epilogue, line 6), and his campaign in France. It explores issues relating to national identity, the ethics of war, and England's imperial ambitions and it includes a number of stirring speeches, such as the St Crispin's Day speech and the "Once more unto the breach" speech. It also stages a number of cross-cultural exchanges that rely on heavily-accented voices often for comedic effect.

What these moments highlight, include:
  • How the Renaissance English were beginning to construct national identity
  • The respresentational strategies being used to stage 'Otherness' 
  • The use of stereotypes in the early modern theater 
  • The tensions underlying attempts to create a unified Britain and to consolidate power abroad. 
Some suggested secondary reading:
  • Andrew Hadfield, ed., Shakespeare, Spenser and the Matter of Britain. Palgrave, 2004.
  • David Baker, ‘Imagining Britain: Shakespeare’s Henry V’ in his Between Nations: Shakespeare, Marvell and the Question of Britain (Stanford UP, 1997), pp. 17-65.
  • Michael Neill, ‘Broken English Broken Irish: Nation, Language and the Optic Power in Shakespeare’s Histories’, in Shakespeare Quarterly 45 (1994): 1-32.
  • Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, ‘History and Ideology: The case of Henry V’ in John Drakakis, Alternative Shakespeares (1985), pp. 206-27.






“Henry V(c. 1599),” Shakespearean Journeys, accessed February 22, 2024, http://shakespeareanjourneys.emerson.build/items/show/2.