Henry V


William Shakespeare

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Henry V: Act 3, Scene 5 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Also in the French palace, King Charles, the Dauphin, the Duke of Bourbon, and the Constable discuss the advance of Henry V’s forces into France. The Constable, the Dauphin and the Duke of Brittany lament the barbarous English, calling them “bastard Normans” and “our scions, put in wild and savage stock.” They marvel that such a damp, dull climate as England’s could yield such fierce warriors, putting French men to shame in the eyes of French women, who lust after English men now.
France chimes in on the theme of England. For the French, England is not its own nation but only an illegitimate, ill-bred offshoot of France (whose William the Conqueror conquered England in 1066.) Yet despite their disgust, the French manage to pay the English a compliment by noticing how at odds the Englishmen’s fiery vigor is with England’s soggy landscape.
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Literary Devices
King Charles calls for everyone to rally a strong defense. He orders them to the battlefield: “for your great seats now quit you of great shames” and capture Henry V. The Constable notes that Henry V’s troops are so sick and famished, he’ll surely surrender as soon as he sees France’s army. King Charles sends the herald Montjoy to ask what ransom England will give. The Dauphin is eager to fight but King Charles orders him to stay in Rouen.
As king, Charles takes responsibility for motivating the troops and presenting the war as a point of honor that it would be humiliating for the French to back down from. The Constable strengthens the king’s case by noting that this point of honor should not be hard to win (given the sickly state of England’s army which has been on the march for weeks in foreign territory, compared to the French soldiers who have not had to face any such deprivation.)
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