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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0220  Thursday, 6 February 2003

[Editor's Note: I have had my reservation about this thread since it
began. I hoped that it would be taken as just another "pop" culture
citation, but it is slipping somewhat beyond that. I will continue to
post submissions about the nature of *Henry V*, as I recall it was
Harold Goddard who first suggested the play was anti-war, but I would
like to keep references to the current situation out of the
conversations. My reason is I just do not want to spend my time editing
and formatting digests that are for or against what is currently going
on. If anyone would like to know my own opinion or political
orientation, I will be more than happy to inform you privately. -Hardy]

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 11:30:15 -0500
        Subj:   DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:29:27 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0202


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 11:30:15 -0500
Subject:        DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

Responding to Richard Burt's information (see title of this thread),
Dana Shilling wrote:

"I think we should say rather that "a sovereign is manipulated into
leading his nation into a dangerous, unnecessary and unjustified war in
which significant war crimes are committed, the manipulation being done
by cynics who don't think the sovereign is very bright."

Maybe. But the war fever in England is white hot because of the new
king's "transformation." He engineered that, right? Moreover, in the
council scene, Henry at first resists going to war, thus increasing the
war fever of all to the breaking point. That's when the memories of the
"black prince" begin.

So who is manipulating whom? From my point of view, the council and the
Bishops are putty in Henry's hands.  You know, he could have backed the
Bill that would have contributed greatly to the common good, and that
the "commons" wanted. But to have done so would have entailed the risk
of being overthrown by those who want war (the very war Henry has
psychologically made overwhelmingly attractive.)

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:29:27 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0202 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0202 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

I had the absolute privilege of playing Henry about 6 years ago.
Regardless of your view of the titular character, I found the play to be
one of the most personally moving anti-war statements made in literature
and drama. Take these moments: Henry's admonition to Canterbury, the
Harfleur speech, the behavior of the Eastcheap crowd in France, the
entirety of Act IV especially the discussions about the responsibilities
of soldiers and leaders the night before the battle, Henry's Ceremony
and God of Battles soliloquies, the description of the death of York
(which always brought tears to my eyes onstage), the slaughter of the
boys and the execution of the prisoners as extra baggage when the French
renew their assault, the roll call of the dead, and not least, the
absolutely beautiful and evocative description of the desolation of
France by Burgundy before the treaty is signed. I could not help but see
the negative aspects of the war. I think it is one of the common
mistakes of many people who read, study, watch and sometimes even
perform Henry V that they take and emphasize Once More into the Breach
and St. Crispin's Day as the main aspects of the play.

Brian Willis

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