Presentation on theme: "Shakespeare’s Henry V The history, the play, performance in Shakespeare’s day."— Presentation transcript:
Shakespeare’s Henry V The history, the play, performance in Shakespeare’s day
Henry V of England and France Reigned Shakespeare’s play: 1599 Lancastrian branch of Plantagenet dynasty; Wars of the Roses over English succession - Lancaster v. York Most successful late Plantagenet king Foreign policy: 100 Years’ War uniting thrones of England and France Shakespeare’s monarch: Elizabeth I, house of Tudor (since Henry VII, 1485)
Henry’s claim to throne of France Edward II ( ) m. Isabella of France Their son, Edward III ( ) is Henry’s grandfather; initiated 100 Yrs War; his son Edward ( ), Black Prince of Wales, led many campaigns Isabella’s 3 brothers were dead by 1328; lords of France invoke “Salic law” to bar her claim Treaty of Brétigny, 1360, ceded Calais area to England; used as commercial center Henry II m. Eleanor of Aquitaine, succeeded to dukedom William the Conqueror ruled Normandy Birthright to land and title is taken very seriously in Medieval Europe; today appears imperialist
Act I of play Shakespeare’s source is Hollinshed’s Chronicles, 1587; not wholly reliable Chorus gives us backstory Archbishop presents Henry his right to French throne; argues against Salic law Church had self interest in funding war. Actually this refers to parliamentary bill from time of Henry IV, proposing to strip church of land, give to crown. Medieval church is at height of own imperialist abuses and divided by Papal schism. Dauphin Louis taunts Henry V with case of tennis balls (apocryphal) Henry sees weight of decision I:2 l. 15, l. 225
Play’s Structure Chorus: fill in between incidents of episodic plot (5 yrs between acts 4&5). Speaks directly to audience, calls on imagination, refers to Shakespeare’s stage Act 2: Southampton (Channel coast) Plot against Henry’s life foiled. Low comedy (King’s youthful companions) prepare for war; Sir John Falstaff is ill; Pistol and Mistress Quickly are married. Falstaff dies. France: her Dauphin thinks Henry is weak, based on youth. Act 3: Harfleur in France. Henry lays siege; battles. Low comedy won’t fight; boy is critical of their unethical behavior. Beginning of focus on ordinary men in battle: Erpingham, Fluellen (Welsh) and Jamy, MacMorris (Scot). Harfleur yields and Henry calls for mercy for French and plans retreat to Calais
Act 3 (cont’d):. Katherine learns English from Alice; Charles VI responds to English military threat; sends Herald. Pistol turns in Bardolph for robbing a church; the King wants all such disobedience punished. Montjoy brings the French challenge; the English are sick, tired, forces depleted. The night before battle, the French expect to win easily. Act 4: English camp the night before Agincourt. Henry borrows Erpingham’s cloak for a disguise, goes alone among men: Pistol, Fluellen,then Bates, Court and Williams with whom he debates the responsibility of the individual and the king in times of war. Henry feels weight of responsibility for lives, prays for men (IV:1:210). French are overconfident at dawn; English see they are outnumbered at least 5:1. Henry’s famous St. Crispin’s Day speech. Pistols takes Frenchman for ransom. French ranks are broken; York and Suffolk die in battle.
Act 4 (cont’d) French kill the boys in the camp; English respond killing POWs. English win the day; the miraculous numbers roll in: 25 English dead vs. 10,000 French. Henry ascribes victory to God, sends the English to church. Act 5: Five years later. Fluellen makes Pistol eat his leeks; Pistol (whose wife died) plans to return to England and turn thief. A peace agreement, brokered by Burgundy, at French palace, Charles VI, Isabel and Henry’s uncle Exeter and brothers work out details. Harry courts Katherine, seals it with a kiss. Charles hopes for a lasting peace Climax: English win battle of Agincourt. Serious issues like a tragedy -- the hero king -- ethical, responsible, clever, decisive, accessible to common men, pious, honest, merciful. Poetic justice in outcome of battle.
Dénouement: Marriage symbolizes peace between England and France, typical of comic endings. English audiences know it won’t last.
Elizabethan stage Shakespeare’s Globe moved to Southwark at time of Henry V in 1599; style based on innyards and animal bating. 100’ diameter polygon; 33’ high. Burned 1613; rebuilt, dismantled 1644 by Puritans. Burbages owned 50% of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, including Globe; 50% jointly by Shakespeare, Heminges, Kemp, Phillips, Pope. Theatre illegal within city’s walls; actors punished by Act for the punishment of rogues and vagabonds, 1583.
1593 Sketch before Globe
Johannes DeWitt’s period sketch of Swan
Stage and Audience Thrust stage, 5 feet high. Heavens, grave trap, inner below and above, balcony, musicians. Painted w/ trompe l’oeil. Props, furniture but no scenery. Costumes contemporary with a few exceptions, including “medieval” and “classical.” Live music All but royalty attended public theatre; held Groundlings or penny stinkers; 2-3 p for seat in gallery, 14 p. for nobles above stage to be seen. Refer to Actor reading - historical section
New Shakespeare’s Globe Opened 1997; 30 years in preparation Made with all original materials, original methods (except some fire safety) Located 1 block from original Summer season of mostly Shakespeare and his contemporaries, in a variety of production styles Tours, historical museum