I am trying to build up Henry as a religous man who has excellednt powers of persuasion. If any1 can be bothered to read this i would be very grateful for comments and would love any suggestions of points i could bring up. Also if anyone has done the same coursework task and would be willing to post it here...then i would be in eternal debt to u.
Shakespeare makes it clear from the beginning that Henry is a religious man. Through out Act 1 Scene 2 the character constantly refers to religion saying things like ‘God forbid’ and ‘baptism’. He is such a devoted Christian that he asks for Canterbury’s opinion on the Salic Law and war with France, asking if it is a ‘right and conscience’ claim. He trusts the church so much that he cannot see that Canterbury’s motive for supporting the war is that Henry will forget about taking money from the church. The church actually offers him some money for the war (an amount that is less then Henry was to take), so they will come out better.
However towards the end of the play during Act 3 Scene 3 when trying to convince the Governor of Harfleur to open his gates, he builds up imagery of hell that will supposedly come true if they do not let them in. He uses words like ‘hot and forcing’ ‘flames’ and describes ‘infants spitted upon pikes’ He uses the metaphor ‘with conscience wide as hell’. The word hell has very negative connotations and by describing his conscience as hell he is making it seem distraught, confused and evil – as if he is not sure what his crazy mind will do, which is a way to scare the governor.
This ‘evil’ Henry is a complete contrast from the religious Henry that is built up through out the play and this could show that he is fickle, that he was just pretending to be religious so he was considered a ‘good’ king. This could be supported by Act 1 Scene 1 in which the two bishops speak of Henry’s sudden change from a wild youth, into a wonderful king. Canterbury says: ‘Never came reformation in a flood,’ which suggests that the reformation came so quickly it was fake. However it is my opinion that Henry is lying and being cunning to get what he wants. During Act 3 Scene 3 he refers to things in the bible that you would need to be religious to know, such as the story of Herald that he talks about towards the end of his speech. He hasn’t lost his faith in Christianity and knows that the raping, ‘maidens fall into the hand of hot and forcing violation,’ and the ‘murder, spoil, and villainy’ he speaks of is morally wrong. It would also be in keeping with the heroic convention of the historical genre if he were lying – the audience knows Henry is religious and would never do any of these things, which builds up dramatic irony. The audience know something the ‘horrible’ French do not, making the English audience feel superior to the French. This sense of patriotism is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the play. It was written in the 1590s, not long after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, so audiences loved to see plays about English Victories and Heroes.
it seems a bit short for a coursework
Hope this helps more than it hinders ask other people too
Sorri that was menat to say "that you should show the impotance...as a part in the whole play"-i mean don't just focus on act 3 scene 3 entirley-throw in a bit of the significance of religion throughout the play. Or something. lol