Henry V

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Accents Symbol Icon
Accents abound among the play’s characters and symbolize Henry V’s diverse vision of England. Though Captain Fluellen, Captain Jamy, and Captain MacMorris all speak English, each man’s English carries the distinctive mark of his homeland. Their Welsh, Scotch, and Irish accents gesture towards their respective English sub-cultures, signaling the rich diversity of England’s population. The fact that each man is a high-ranking captain in Henry V’s army signals, too, that England is tolerant of cultural differences and welcomes people of disparate backgrounds into its most trusted offices. This ideal of tolerance is reiterated in Act 5 when the English Captain Gower admonishes Pistol for making fun of Fluellen’s Welsh traditions and accent. Katherine’s French accent can likewise be seen to signify English diversity and tolerance. As Henry V’s success at Agincourt unites France and England, the French become another sub-culture welcomed into the English melting pot.

Accents Quotes in Henry V

The Henry V quotes below all refer to the symbol of Accents. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Kingship Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Henry V published in 2004.
Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

I think the king is but a man, as I am.

Related Characters: Henry V (speaker), Michael Williams, John Bates, Alexander Court
Related Symbols: Accents
Page Number: 4.1.105-106
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, once again, Henry is acting as something that he's not. Though instead of feigning ignorance as he did when confronting his traitorous English lords in Act 2, Scene 2, here he is pretends to be a common soldier.

He uses his disguise to observe his soldiers' behavior when they are not in the King's presence, to discuss private matters openly, and to test the feelings of his men. He claims to serve under a man who is certain that the English forces are doomed and says that his commander has not told the King this opinion. 

He utters this line in the middle of a debate with John Bates, Alexander Court, and Michael Williams. He humanizes the King (himself) by saying that he is just a man, giving a lengthy prose speech in which he describes the King thinking and feeling like a normal man (note Henry's ability to alter his language to fit in with his soldiers). Henry here shows the vulnerability and humanity he otherwise could not show, since it might dishearten his troops and his country. By altering his appearance, he is able to articulate the private thoughts that plague the public figure of the King.


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Act 4, Scene 7 Quotes

All the water in Wye cannot wash your majesty’s Welsh plod out of your pody, I can tell you that: God pless it and preserve it as long as it pleases his Grace and his Majesty too.

Related Characters: Captain Fluellen (speaker), Henry V
Related Symbols: Accents
Page Number: 4.7.112-114
Explanation and Analysis:

The battle is won, and Henry has named it the Battle of Agincourt. Here Fluellen, a Welsh captain in the army, reminisces about Henry's relatives, which brings the appeal to royal lineage full circle. Henry's men persuaded him to act as the "former lions of [his] blood" did, and now Fluellen praises Henry saying that he has lived up to those great ancestors. In these lines Fluellen refers specifically to Henry's Welsh relatives, saying that "all of the water in Wye" couldn't wash the King's Welsh blood ("plod") out of his body ("pody"). Note that the alliteration of blood and body is altered, yet still preserved by Fluellen's accent.

These lines also show that Fluellen feels close to his King and feels the sense of brotherhood, camaraderie, and patriotism which Henry tried to instill in his men. The lines also help to illustrate and stake a claim about English greatness: that the country is unified across its many cultures and people: British, Welsh, Scottish, etc. Henry must represent and account for all of the different cultures that he rules; as king he is the entirety of his country and his peoples. In this moment, it is the Welsh aspect of his Englishness that shines, but more broadly Henry has been successful in embodying and unifying them all.

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Will you mock at an ancient tradition, begun upon an honourable respect, and worn as a memorable trophy of predeceased valour and dare not avouch in your deeds any of your words? I have seen you gleeking and galling at this gentlemen twice or thrice. You thought, because he could not speak English in the native garb, he could not therefore handle an English cudgel: you find it otherwise; and henceforth let a Welsh correction teach you a good English condition.

Related Characters: Captain Gower (speaker), Ancient Pistol
Related Symbols: Accents
Page Number: 5.1.74-83
Explanation and Analysis:

In these lines, Captain Gower chides Pistol based on a series of interactions between Pistol and Fluellen. Pistol has mocked Fluellen, making fun of his traditions and asking him to eat his leek (which is disrespectful to a Welsh man). Fluellen has been wearing the leek past when he usually would so that he could settle things with Pistol; upon meeting Pistol, Fluellen insults him, beats him, makes him bite the leek, and gives him a coin.

Here, Gower tells Pistol that he essentially deserved the harsh treatment for mocking "an ancient tradition." Gower says he has seen Pistol "gleeking and galling at [Fluellen] twice or thrice," thinking that because of his accent, he was less threatening and demanding of respect. But after the beating, Gower claims, Pistol has found otherwise, and learned a "good English condition" from a "Welsh correction." In other words, a Welshman has taught him how to be a good Englishman, who is respectful and gentlemanly. This lesson reinforces the image of England as inclusive, culturally diverse, and honorable.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

Your majestee ave fausse French enough to deceive de most sage demoiselle dat is en France.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker), Henry V
Related Symbols: Accents
Page Number: 5.2.227-228
Explanation and Analysis:

Katherine has carefully rejected Henry's advances, despite his lengthy arguments and constructed appearance of humility. In the lines preceding this quote, Henry has slightly broken the humble, unschooled character he has been building. Henry talks about what their son will do and asks what Katherine thinks, before giving her a lengthy, praising epithet in French.

To this French Katherine responds the above line, saying that Henry has "fausse [false] French enough to deceive" even the smartest women in France. The moment that Henry drops his act of humility and inserts pomp and pretension, Katherine calls him out for being false, demonstrating that despite her accent, she is intelligent. She sees through both acts, both the exaggerated humility and the forward romantic praise in French. To proceed, Henry must say "Fie upon my false French" and be direct and honest with her. There is an implication here that perhaps, in Katherine, Henry has found someone with whom he can be honest, can and must share his true self.

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Accents Symbol Timeline in Henry V

The timeline below shows where the symbol Accents appears in Henry V. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Scene 2
Warfare Theme Icon
England Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
...Fluellen that the Duke of Gloucester requests him at the mines. Fluellen (with a Welsh accent) protests that the mines are “not according to the disciplines of war.” Gower insists, saying... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Language Theme Icon
...words’ ‘foot’ and ‘gown’ have wicked, lewd sounds, but dutifully pronounces them (with a French accent). Alice praises her. They leave for dinner. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
Kingship Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
...Fluellen says ‘Big’ instead of ‘Great,’ which comes out sounding like ‘Pig’ because of Fluellen’s accent. Like Alexander the Great, Fluellen says, Henry is gallant, was born in a town with... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Appearances Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
...to indulge him and calls the language of men deceitful, repeatedly evading Henry’s proposals (in accented English) and reminding him that the choice is her father’s, not her own. When Henry... (full context)