The Prince vs. Henry V Essay

1032 Words Apr 3rd, 2013 5 Pages
The Prince vs. Henry V
A comparison of attributes

After reading Machiavelli’s The Prince and watching Shakespeare’s Henry V in class, one begins to notice similarities between the authors’ idea of what a “perfect king” should be. The patterns between the ideal ruler of Shakespeare and the ideal ruler of Machiavelli can be seen in numerous instances throughout this story. For the duration of this essay, I will compare the similarities in both pieces to give the reader a better understanding of how Shakespeare devised his view of what a “perfect king” should be. One can see an example while looking back on Henry’s youthful experiences. Before taking oath as king, Henry was involved with some scrupulous characters. He would
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While speaking to the governor, Henry literally scares the people of Harfleur into submission and gains entry to the city without further fighting. This shows a definite similarity in what Machiavelli and Shakespeare view in their leader. As a king, Henry becomes known for being a man of resilience, strategy, and combat. These traits, according to Machiavelli, are necessary to become the “ideal king.” As stated by Machiavelli, “…a prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules.” (Machiavelli) This can be seen when the Dauphin presents Henry with a gift of tennis balls and an insulting speech practically telling him to stay out of grown men’s affairs. This gives Henry the leverage he needs to start a war with France without looking like the instigator. He can now put the blame of war on the Dauphin and the many lives of whom will be killed. Henry uses this to move toward his strength and show his full potential. Another example can be seen when Henry has to hang Bardolph for plundering during the invasion of France. Years earlier, while drinking in the tavern, Bardolph had asked Prince Henry this question, “Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief?” Prince Henry replied, “No, thou

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