Henry V


William Shakespeare

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Henry V: Act 3, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Henry V, Gloucester, Exeter, and other lords and soldiers enter. Henry V gives a rousing speech to the troops. He addresses them as “dear friends” and calls on them to discard their peacetime ways and render themselves as fierce as tigers, as resolute as wave-battered rocks. He calls them “noblest English” and reminds them of the ancestral war heroes coursing through their veins. He calls on them to be honorable by imitating “men of grosser blood.” He says even the lowest among them have “noble lustre” in their eyes and sends the signal for all to charge on through the breach in the town wall, crying “’God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’”
Canterbury and Ely referred to Henry’s eloquence in Act 1, but this is the first time that the full extent of that eloquence is displayed firsthand on stage. Henry’s virtuosic rhetoric balances a complex set of appeals: it appeals to its listeners’ dignity and nobility while also appealing to their ferocity. Above all, it appeals to their sense of camaraderie, with each other, with Henry, with all Englishmen, and with God.
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