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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Harfleur
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0446  Friday, 12 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 09:07:39 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 10.0432 Re: Harfleur

[2]     From:   Ildiko Solti <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 09:29:35 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Harfleur


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 09:07:39 -0800
Subject: Re: Harfleur
Comment:        SHK 10.0432 Re: Harfleur

Brian Haylett wrote of Henry V:

>But this is the man who ordered the French prisoners at Agincourt to be
>killed BEFORE the killing of the English boys in camp. Olivier switched
>those happenings because it didn't suit his heroic depiction of Henry.

I know this reading turns up a lot in the commentaries, but I find it
naive. Yes, this is the sequence of events, but Shakespeare's source
makes clear that the murder of the boys came first and there are later
references in the play justifying Henry's decision as revenge for the
boys deaths and as good military strategy since the French were still on
the field.  To not kill the prisoners could have put the battle on two
fronts.  It is possible that Shakespeare wanted uncertainty about
Henry's motives here; that he wanted to keep Henry's character murky.
It is also possible this is just sloppy writing or editing.  Certainly
some characters in the play have a different take on this than Mr.
Haylett and others have.  I find the above reading much too simple.

With respect,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ildiko Solti <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 09:29:35 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Harfleur

The actor playing Henry would, I think, have to depend on strong
reactions from the Governor of Harfleur when delivering the speech, both
for its length and its intention. Given the basic setup of French
superiority, couldn't the Governor be playing on this, as well as
playing for time? On the stage, Henry would have to talk up to him to
the battlements (balcony, etc). Being in charge of a small and faint
army, wouldn't this imply an "uphill struggle" on his part? His tight
situation and overdone language would suggest to me a kind of "heroic
bluff".
 

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