I. Henry V--Lecture Notes

A. Class I

1. Show Olivier video opening through Prologue

a. What do we learn about or recognize about 16th c. Shakespearean theatre here? Film as history; history as dramatization and revivification of past.

b. History play as genre; Shakespeare wrote 10. Renaissance nationalism and rationalism. Secular vs. Theological history.

i. Famous victories of Henry V; Henry as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln; relation to Richard II and Henry IV; dying words of his father who faced civil war his whole life:

(1). Therefore my Harry/Be it thy course to busy giddy minds/With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out/May waste the memory of the former days

ii. heroic propaganda; sacrificial identification; what makes men willing to die? History of Olivier production; 1944; D. Day, Normandy; Churchill and funding. See also prologue to II

c. Play's historical setting

i. 1588: Facing Armada--Elizabeth's Tilbury speech (Neale, 308);

ii. Ralegh expeditions and Essex in Ireland; Chorus of Act V--only contemporary refernce in Sh. --

(1). later imperial conquest; army of Scots, Welch, Cornish; cf. III,ii

(2). Expedition fails; Essex' fall; Henry succeeded by HVI and his triumph is short lived; worse civil war follows

iii. pressure on Elizabeth for war vs. Burleigh for peace

(1). Machiavelli vs. Erasmus--quotes from Oracle of Comfort;

(a). chivalric and pragmatic; role of clergy; cf. clergy in scene I; King James succeeds in 1603 as pacifist

d. Is Olivier's treatment warranted by text? Metatheatrical elements of Prologue text and of film.

i. Muse of Fire; Wooden O; imagination; collaboration; heros, gods and monarchs; power of mind's eye

(1). imagery and poetry of imaginary puissance

(2). read iambic pentameter aloud

ii. Connection to MND; Prologue to III; power of imagination

iii. Acting and Action; Henry as heroic strenuousness and also as "actor" and director; stepping out of role at a climactic moment in Act IV; as director and playwright in Acts I and II

(1). Machiavelli on appearance: 50-51; 63 on clergy

2. Play tape of Canterbury and Ely

a. First of all exposition--Henry's background and conversion; miraculous hero; former rakehell.

b. Satiric tone: why clownishness; relation to prologue; what's left out? see lines 7-20; more textured historical background here filled in; Class struggle and other tensions. Ideology vs. actuality. General pattern of the play--ambivalence here to power just as in MND. Authority and its subversion; long speech as in bees.

3. I, ii, 8. Henry's management of the interview with clergy and french ambassador; who is audience? effect on them of play?

a. Compare Henry's opening to closing speeches. Structure of Act I;

4. look at structure of Act II; overall structure of play's five acts: obstacles and overcoming them; heroic achievement or bloody rape? Quote Hazlitt 212-213