Henry V


William Shakespeare

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Henry V: Act 4, Scene 8 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Williams and Fluellen are in hot dispute over the glove. Gower tries and fails to calm them down. Warwick, Gloucester, Henry V, and Exeter enter and Fluellen calls Williams a traitor and a friend of Alencon. Williams insists the glove belongs to the Englishman he met and swore to fight. Henry reveals that the glove is his own and, though Fluellen urges him to execute Williams, he accepts Williams’ plea for pardon and has the glove filled with crowns for Williams to take home. Fluellen then tries to give Williams money too, but is refused.
As in Act 2 scene 2, Henry demonstrates that a good king understands that not all criticism against the king has to be punished. Here, Henry accepts that Williams’ critique was elicited by Henry's own disguise. There is also an implicit sense that Henry is much more comfortable, for good reason, with the honest disagreement displayed by Williams than he was of the dishonest "disagreement" engaged in by the conspirators in Act 1. By immediately revising his own behavior to mimic Henry’s, Fluellen shows how influential the king’s actions are.
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A herald enters and delivers the casualty report to Henry V. Ten thousand Frenchmen are dead - including many nobles, knights, esquires, and gentlemen – but only twenty-nine Englishmen were killed, of which only four were nobles. Henry declares their victory belongs to God alone and says he’ll execute any Englishman who claims otherwise. He calls for a procession through the village singing prayers and giving the dead Christian burial.
Henry could easily gloat over this stark ratio and use it to enhance his own glory. Instead, Henry acknowledges his own subservience to God and acts extremely humbly, demanding that all Englishman follow his example.
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