Tag Archives: Drama

Henry V

(DISCLAIMER: the post is a bit thick today.  If it’s too much, sorry.  I just really like Henry V 8/ )

In case you haven’t noticed from the particular books and plays I have reviewed, I am a History nerd/dork.  For my Early Shakespeare class this semester, we were charged with reading Henry V; we just finished it a week or two ago.  And, I’m maybe a little obsessed?  I bought myself, for an early birthday present, Jamie Parker’s Henry V, Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, and the complete Hollow Crown cycle (the first one, not the War of the Roses cycle).  I also rented Laurence Olivier’s version of Henry V.  Again, a little obsessed.

Why am I obsessed with Henry V?  I don’t really know.  There are certain stories and types of stories that just seem to be really enjoyable for me.  If we clump Henry V with Arthurian legend, maybe it will make a bit more sense.  My professor bemoaned that we would not be able to read the whole Henry cycle, Henry IV through Henry V, because you really get  Henry V’s whole story arc.  But, semester’s have only a certain amount of time in them.

Henry V, unlike many of the plays I’ve read, first, has a chorus, and two, starts with the chorus.  The chorus pretty much lies out what the story is going to be about, and then gives a disclaimer, saying ‘we ain’t got that big a budget, y’all, fill in the gaps.  It’s gonna be great.’  More or less.  We then see the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking with another clergyman about how great Henry is, despite the fact that he was a rascal as a youth.  They go in to speak to the king and tell him that he has a legitimate claim to the French throne.  The King decides to pursue this claim on French fields.  We cut to some of the people Henry used to hang out with as a prince.  They are the comic relief.  Some interesting things happen in the context of Henry’s whole arc, but  we won’t go into too much detail here.  Henry punishes some traitors who were once friends of his, and everyone sails to France.  We have the Battle of Harfluer, some intermediary scenes, then the night before the Battle of Agincourt.

Henry walked among his men to raise their spirits, but then he decides to go spend some time alone; “I and my bosom must debate awhile, and then I would no other company (4.1.31-32).”  But that doesn’t last long.  Some characters we have already met enter and have some interaction either with the king or simply before him, giving Henry an insight into what his men really think.  Then, Henry talks with some new characters; Williams, Bates, and Court.  They aren’t happy or excited about going to battle the next day and they don’t want to be there.  They are critical of the King’s war, unbeknownst to themselves, in front of the king.  These characters push Henry to give a refutation, and then to trade gloves with Williams; a promise to fight him later.  After all exit, Henry gives some powerful monologues, and then the Battle of Agincourt begins. (We will skip the Battle of Agincourt, because this post is already turning out longer than I anticipated.)

After the Battle of Agincourt, we skip a year or so to the Treaty de Troyes and the wooing of Katherine, which, when played right (Jamie Parker’s version, specifically), is hysterical.  Katherine and Henry do not speak each others’ language, so have a barrier they must converse through.  In the end, Henry receives Katherine through the Treaty, and Henry and his future issue are made the heirs of France.  But, the chorus reminds the audience that Henry died young, and his son, Henry VI loses the throne of France.

This play is just so good, especially depending on how it is performed.  So. Good.  The rating? 10/10, would read again (and again…. and again…..)

Have you read Henry V?  What person from History are you obsessed with right now?  Share your comments below!  And, until next time, keep reading and be kind, folks!


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The Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles

I love the Oedipus Trilogy.  Oedipus’s story is super tragic and brings up the topic of fate so hard.  If a person is fated to do something, can he really be blamed when it happens?  And what if the thing that happened wasn’t his fault to begin with?

Oedipus the King shows Oedipus as a king, living it up.  But, he gets curious, and starts looking into the murder of the king before him.  When he finds the truth, (SPOILER

he killed his Dad,defeated the sphinx, and married his Mom to become King and had four kids with her.  This was all fated to happen before he was born, so when he was born, his parents stuck a pin through his feet and left him to die on a mountain.  He got adopted by another king and queen.  He left home, killed his Dad, etc.

END SPOILER), his wife commits suicide and he stabs his eyes with a pin from her dress, blinding himself.  He is now disgraced, and eventually becomes a wanderer.

Oedipus at Colonus picks up with Oedipus as a wanderer.  He comes across a City/State that he decides is going to be his death-place (Is death-place a thing?  It is now!).  He dies and curses his sons to kill each other on the battle field.

Antigone is about the culmination of the curse on the house of Oedipus.  Oedipus’s sons had decided that they would share the crown when their father passed.  One son would have power for a year, the other son would have it the next, and so on.  However, the eldest decided after the first year that he didn’t want to give it up to his younger brother, so they started a war.  When they both died, their uncle, Creon becomes king.  He decides that one son is to  be given a state burial and honors, the other is to be left as carrion for the birds.  This is super impious, and will probably make Hades kinda mad.  Antigone, one of Oedipus’s daughters, decides that Creon’s decision is bull, and buries her brother anyways.  The rest of the play follows the fall out of Antigone’s choice.

All in all, I love these plays, especially Antigone.  I got to watch Antigone performed at the University of North Georgia a while back and it was phenomenal.

Rating: 10/10, would read (and watch) again.

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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Books, Classics, Greeks, Library Updates


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