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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

King Henry V

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Setting: 1414-1420 AD

England and France


My really abridged plot summary: Henry lays claim to some of France because of some ancient laws of territory and inheritance. After receiving an insulting letter (and tennis balls) from the Dauphin of France, he decides it's time to invade. Some of his old "low-life" friends prepare to leave for war, as they also brace for the looming death of Falstaff. While about to leave, Henry learns of some threats against his life. The three traitors beg for mercy, but he denies them (through a series of exceptional speeches). The English continue to overcome grim odds in France, and Henry keeps giving crowd rousing speeches. Henry's old friends are caught looting and he has them executed. *Cue the Battle of Agincourt,* the English are outnumbered five to one. The night before, Henry disguises himself as a common soldier and talks to his people earnestly. Alone, he soliloquizes about what it means to be King. In the morning, he delivers an inspiring speech and prayer to rouse his troops. Against all odds, the English are victorious, and with minimal casualties! The French surrender. Peace negotiations are worked out and Henry courts Princess Katherine of France. Their marriage solidifies peace between England and France.

My favorite quote:

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend

The brightest heaven of invention,

A kingdom for a stage, princes to act

And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!


Other notable quotes:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, Or close the wall up with our English dead. ~King Henry, III.i

The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ ~King Henry, III.i

This story shall the good man teach his son,

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother.

~King Henry, IV.iii


  • Overall Impression: 8- I liked this one so much more than the Henry IV plays. I just don't like Falstaff I guess.

  • Use of Language: 10- There are some truly exceptional speeches in this play, and a lot of really famous lines.

  • Protagonist Arc: 10- Yeah, Henry's arc is a 10/10. I will not be taking questions at this time.

  • Female Characters: 6- As wonderful as Kate is, she's only in 2 scenes (and the first is usually cut). I LOVE her, don't get me wrong, but I just can't justify giving her a higher score when she has so little stage time, and her primary purpose is to be courted by Henry. She is an exceptional character when she is on stage, so I'm giving her a 6.

  • Fits Genre: 10- This is a quintessential History play.

  • Overall Enjoyment: 8- Again, I enjoyed this one so much more than the previous Henry IV plays. Henry's arc is so compelling and I don't mind Pistol as much as Falstaff. Oh and I LOVE the Dauphin! What a pompous icon- love to hate him!

  • Hype Worthy: 8- This is such a good play. It deserves all of the hype. I just wish there were more women in it.

  • Emotional Impact: 7- I don't know what it feels like to be a King... so I was not that emotionally affected by a lot of Henry's emotional speeches- BUT I found his inspirational speeches quite exciting! There's also something to be said about the thought of the troops being sent off to war that was more powerful in this play compared to some of Shakespeare's others.

Total: 67/80

Average: 8

*4 out of 5 stars*

***The Globe is doing a production of Henry V as a part of their upcoming winter season in The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and I CANNOT wait to see it!***

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