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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0229  Friday, 7 February 2003

[1]     From:   Alan J. Sanders <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Feb 2003 11:10:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0220 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

[2]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Feb 2003 13:33:08 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0220 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan J. Sanders <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Feb 2003 11:10:16 -0500
Subject: 14.0220 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0220 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

In hoping to keep my sentiments more firmly rooted in the discussion of
"Henry V" as a work of literature and not a mouthpiece for current
events, I would like to say that I do support many of the ideals Brian
Willis brings forth:

"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 believe all of these moments help paint Henry in a very human and
realistic light.  In the end, he does not revel in the deeds of war.
Shakespeare doesn't necessarily remove the aspects of glory, honor, and
loyalty, but he adds to it the concept of loss, misery, and
destruction.  He paints a 'real' view of battle, rooted in between the
extremes of "No guts, no glory" and "Make love, not war."  Because of
this realistic portrayal, both positive and negative emotions are
elicited from the audience.  Thus, if you tend to be more "anti-war" the
play will strike those cords more succinctly.  Conversely, if you
believe there can be valid reasons for a country to go to battle, you
will see the positive and moving speeches figuring more prominently in
the work.

Thus, I support the notion that the play contains some anti-war messages
-- certainly messages of the grim realities of war.  However, I also see
the piece as elevating those who are called to fight, the ones that must
make the sacrifice for the good of others, to a level of respect and
dignity that many will never know.  For me, having served my country in
Desert Storm 12 years ago, and having moved on in my life to play a
myriad of Shakespearean roles on the stage, I see "Henry V" as a true
glimpse into the realities of war.

I agree with Hardy. This forum is NOT the right place to interject
personal politics.  That should reside in sidebar discussions outside of
this list.  I hope I have helped to reign the topic in and move it more
toward a discussion of why Shakespeare was so far ahead of his time as a
writer -- his ability to capture real emotions and paint characters with
a depth and breadth that rivals even most of today's works.

I remain, as always, humbled by the knowledge so many of you possess.

Alan J. Sanders

[Editor's Note: I'm not sure I am necessarily opposed to interjecting
personal politics, but then I am not sure about a lot of things. I
would, however, like this topic to focus on the play -Hardy]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Feb 2003 13:33:08 -0500
Subject: 14.0220 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0220 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

I believe the earliest interpretation of "Henry V" as an anti-war play
dates from just after the First World War in an essay by one Gerald
Gould, "A New Reading of 'Henry V,'" English Review July 1919. Since
there is no escaping the influence of the present on how we read
literature, I want to applaud Richard Burt's brief summary of how the
play will necessarily appear to many of us in these sad days. And I
agree with Ed Taft that Henry V (like his allegorical signified in the
present) seems to be the author of his own basic strategy--however much
he is a blown along as well by the angels of history and the logic of a
reified power).

Best,
Hugh Grady

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