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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: Henry
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0747  Monday, 26 April 1999.

[1]     From:   Peter Hadorn <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Apr 1999 13:28:47 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0737 Re: Henry

[2]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Apr 1999 13:10:11 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0737 Re: Henry

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Apr 1999 22:18:34 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0737 Re: Henry


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hadorn <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Apr 1999 13:28:47 -0500
Subject: 10.0737 Re: Henry
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0737 Re: Henry

Ed Taft writes:  "Isn't Henry's use of psychology the main reason why he
wins, at least in the play?"  Yes, of course.  As I said in a post some
time ago, I believe that Henry primarily wins the war through his words
(see the Chorus to Act 2: "Behold the ordnance on their carriages,/ With
fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur" (26-27)).  But I would suggest
that Shakespeare introduces an echo of Providential victory ultimately
to shatter it.  Beginning with "R2," in which Richard hoped that angels
would come fight for him, Shakespeare methodically removes the veil from
politics and depicts "history and politics as processes shaped by the
interaction of strumpet Fortune with the will and intellect of the
individual human agent" (Montrose, "The Purpose of Playing," p. 69.  See
Montrose regarding the business surrounding John Hayward's controversial
"The First Part of the Life and raigne of king Henrie the IIII").  But
the very odd hint of providentialism in "H5", I believe echoes that
which appears at the close of Shakespeare's first tetralogy in which
Richard III is finally defeated by Richmond.  There, I believe, the
notion of Providentialism is much more pervasive.  Here it is less so.
Any providentialism that "H5" suggests is undercut by the final chorus
in the play which lets us know that Henry will soon be dead and that
England will suffer civil war.  Actually, I think the final word is
given by what I consider to be the true sequel to this Henriad: "Troilus
and Cressida."  This play which goes to the very origins of British
mythology likewise unmasks politics and human agency.  When Agamemnon,
in hearing of the death of Achilles, states that "in his death the gods
have us befriended," I think we should be disgusted.  First of all, we
saw how Achilles was really killed and, second, if the gods had anything
to do with it, Heaven help us.

Regarding Sean Lawrence's point: "Recognizing oneself to have been
blessed, on the other hand, would be a humbling experience."  I honestly
don't know whether or not Henry believes himself to be blessed.  The
trouble I have stems from the fact that every time Henry talks about
anything, he says that God "goes before"  (see 1.2.222, 1.2.262,
1.2.289, 1.2.307, 2.2.189-90, 3.1.34, 3.6.169, 4.3.133, 4.7.87, &
5.Cho.19-22.).  To me, this is too intentional.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Apr 1999 13:10:11 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 10.0737 Re: Henry
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0737 Re: Henry

Peter wrote:
>Only God can provide grace, and grace is by
>definition unearned.  For
>characters to try earning it by good works, sacred
>crusades or in
>Henry's case, building chapels, is hopeless.

My dear Peter, I could swear these words are the Manichean heresy.
Perhaps, I should direct you to Lear's lament "Would that I had given
more care to physic!".

I suppose that in H5, Harry reminded the common ranks of his great good
works, to reforce the assertion from Act I, sc i, "never have my nobles
been richer".

Of strategy and stratagem, perhaps Harry wished his troops to believe
that he left great wealth behind the lines with his "trunk" to draw the
French cavalry off the field; whereas Harry assured Bates the French
carried their wealth on their backs, or fleet coursers.

Yours in the speculative work,
Dana

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Apr 1999 22:18:34 +0000
Subject: 10.0737 Re: Henry
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0737 Re: Henry

Dana Wilson writes:

>In Act V, sc i, Glower says to Fluellen, "I have seen you glecking and
>galling at this gentleman twice or thrice, you think because he can't
>speak English, he can not handle an English cudgel".  Without stage
>direction it is impossible to be certain who "this gentleman" is.  On my
>reading, he is a Welshman who literally cannot speak English.

I think the context makes it pretty clear that Gower is addressing
Pistol, and the gentleman is Fluellen, who speaks with an accent.

>If so, is
>it so far fetched to imagine that he was actually a French spy and at
>Fluellen, the clown, has mistaken French for Cornish or Welsh?

I doubt that Fluellen, being Welsh, would make such an error.

Cheers,
Se

 

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