William Shakespeare 's Henry V, King Henry And The French Invoke Its Constitution

957 WordsOct 18, 20164 Pages
What constitutes honor in society? In Henry V, King Henry and the French invoke its constitution to incite men into war. Although the reasons that the English and French countrymen fight differ, the thought of honorably serving their countries stands alone as enough impetus to thrust both onto the battlefield. But how can honor command such incentive? The answer stems from individualistic pride. The characters in Henry V see how, as a collective, society has objectively agreed that service to one’s country merits honor, but each character, as an individual, chooses to strive towards that honor because of his or her own pride. This notion of individualistic pride—both consciously and subconsciously—drives daily action. And in Henry V, the insidious intent of pride eclipses the known vicious nature of war. The motivation for King Henry to wage war on France, the subsequent response of France’s leadership, and the action of the English countrymen emanates from the notion of honor, but how each individual responds to the desire to fulfill his pride ultimately shapes “the field of Agincourt” (4.7.86). Henry V illustrates how honor and pride craft the nature of war. King Henry’s yearning for honor and the challenges to his pride that he receives from his wild younger days instigates him to pursue war with France. He understands the magnitude of war, even probing the archbishop of Canterbury’s argument to challenge the Salic law: “For God doth know how many now in health / Shall

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