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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: August ::
Re: Winchester (Correction); Henry V
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0673.  Thursday, 11 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Thursday, August 11, 1994
        Subj:   Winchester Correction (and Apology)
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Aug 1994 21:29:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   True Believer, Henry V, and so on
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Thursday, August 11, 1994
Subject:        Winchester Correction (and Apology)
 
As I edited Tom Dale Keever's posting (SHK 5.0668) of yesterday, I miss read
what Tom had written.   Tom's first line should have read this way:
 
        The two June posts regarding the character of the Bishop of Winchester
        in the *H6* Plays raised some interesting issues about Shakespeare's
        uses of history.
 
My apologies to Tom Keever.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Aug 1994 21:29:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        True Believer, Henry V, and so on
 
It's nice to be called a true believer by Ben Schneider, especially since my
fifth wife once told me that I didn't truly believe in anything. I rather think
of my self as an empiricist. I don't believe that Tudor culture is entirely
different from ours because it goes against my experience of the existing
artifacts, i.e., books, manuscripts, paintings, clothes, etc., as well as my
experience of twentieth-century American culture. For example, the Jehovah's
Witnesses believe in the same theological heresy as John Milton. And I could
draw a number of other parallels, which I am sure would not be accepted as
parallels at the deepest level.
 
Concerning HENRY V (4.1.128ff.), I think Williams does indeed have the best
questions, and I think Henry's arguments by analogy are worthless. He argues
that there is an analogy between a father sending a son on a trip "about
merchandise" (Bevington, revised ed., 154-55) and a king leading an army into a
battle. I (old empiricist) see and felt a difference between going on a trip
and going into battle. I don't expect to die because I go traveling; I do
expect to die when going into battle.
 
Actually Williams's argument is about a just war -- "if the cause be not good"
(140), and about the king's guilt if he gets men killed in an unjust war. Check
what he says -- really. Henry does not argue that he is fighting a just war. In
fact, Henry is at some pains to blame this war on everyone (including God) but
himself. And Henry does not directly respond to Williams's question about the
justice of this offensive (in both senses) war. This is not a war that defends
the integrity of England. Even pacifists believe in defending themselves -- or
at least some do.
 
I don't see Shakespeare writing a play about an heroic monarch taking
responsibility for his political actions. He doesn't even take responsibility
for negotiating the peace at the end of the play.
 
And a parting shot:  I don't think Shakespeare had much use for power mongers
no matter what their stamp: Bolingbroke, Falstaff, Hal, Hotspur, each is
willing to give up a piece of his humanity for political power, and each has at
least a touch of rot at the core.
 
Yours,
Bill Godshalk
 

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