King Henry V is portrayed as the ideal king and one of the world’s greatest leaders. Henry is what could be defined as the ultimate hero. King Henry V epitomises England’s idea of a good and fair king. Henry even calls his fellow soldiers his “brothers” to further emphasise the importance of a fair and humble king. He sets the precedent for the need for moral values and justifications in all people, especially a ruler of a great country. He is portrayed as the archetype for future English kings and the values they should hold.
King Henry seems to be a perfect leader – brave, modest, and fiercely determined, but with a sense of humour. Although his intentions may be honourable, the motives for them may not. He may be acting upon a purse offered by the church, and only undertaking the campaign for his own financial gain. Henry is greatly respected and followed in his religious devotion. His general attitude to religion makes him an effective leader. He is a true believer in God and he conveys this very well by being so sincere throughout the play. He always turns to God when in need for help, and thanks God when he achieves something. This is shown before and after the battle of Agincourt. The night before the battle Henry prays “O God of battles, steel my soldiers’ hearts.” Henry feels God is there to help whenever he calls upon him. He also passes his glory on to God after winning the battle for when Montjoy tells him the day is his, Henry replies “Praised be God, and not our strength, for it”. This also shows how Henry feels God is always there for him, and he truly and sincerely depends on him. In these religious times, the fact that the King was a strong believer of God was good, for it influenced and helped his people’s faith.
A good King must be able to converse with and understand the will of the common man and others and Henry shows this talent well. When Henry passes himself off as an officer and a soldier when he walks among his troops. Henry speaks of his right to start this war and of his determination. “I myself heard the king say he would not be ransomed.” this shows an example of Henry’s determination. Henry speaks so convincingly and with passion that he manages to turn a character named Bates, from questioning the king, to being willing to fight for him in battle. Also when Richard Earl of Cambridge (Cambridge), Lord Scroop of Masham (Scroop), and Sir Thomas Gray (Gray) are found to be traitors, a great aspect of Henry’s behaviour and character is shown as Henry feels deeply betrayed and feel he has to question all loyalties. The King’s intelligence and cunning is shown when he sets a trap for the traitors, he asks them what they would do to punish a traitor, “Enlarge the man committed yesterday, That railed against our person”. To which Scroop replies, “That’s mercy, but too much security. Let him be punished…”.
Another important insight into Henry’s character. The Dauphin disrespects the King when he sends tennis balls as a tribute to keep peace with France. Although deeply insulted by the Dauphin the King remains calm. His speech tells the audience of what is intended for France. The speech shows a king that is calm and does not make decisions rashly, a king with restraint. The king is sure not to appear insulted so as to show his power, by showing France may not effect the King no matter how deeply it insults him.
Metaphor is used in this speech, “We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set.”