Scene 1: The Churchmen and Henry
1. What is the concern of the Churchmen? What bill do they fear
might be passed by parliament? Why?
2. Why does Shakespeare begin the play with this discussion?
What does the bill that is before parliament have to do with the
possible war with France?
3. Do the Churchmen favor a war with France? Why or why not?
4. What do we learn of Henry V, and his power, from this discussion
between the Churchmen with which the play opens?
Scene 2: The Decision to Invade France
1. Why does Henry call in Canterbury before he sees the French
2. Does Henry have a valid claim to the French throne? Does Shakespeare,
and Branagh in his film, call Henry's claim into question?
3. Why does the Dauphin send Henry tennis balls? Is this an appropriate
present for a monarch? Or for Henry in particular? How does henry
put the gift to good use in his message to the Dauphin? Might
Henry's audience for his response to the Dauphin be his own nobles
who are present?
4. What factors or concerns go into the decision to go to war
5.Notice in the council-chamber scene in Branagh's film how many
times the councilors' eyes dart back and forth between one another.
Exeter's eyes seem particularly telling in two instances: first,
just before the "the summer's sun" line, he signals
something to the bishop, and second, he fixes a steady gaze upon
the king during and after his "Your brother kings,"
remark. Notice also the continued attention of the camera on the
two clergymen. What is indicated about the "politics"
of this scene by Branagh's direction?
6. Henry in charge, making the decision about the war? To what
extent do others control his decision? What factors operate in
the decision (including the Dauphin's gift of the tennis balls)?
7. In general, what are the restraints on the king's power, which
emerge from the first two scenes of the play?
8. What qualities of leadership does Henry demonstrate in this
scene? How does Branagh's direction contribute to this issue?
Scene 3: Henry's Battle Speech at Harfleur
1. To what sentiments does Henry appeal in his speech to his soldiers?
Compare Henry's rhetoric to that of Coriolanus to his soldiers
outside of Corioli. What differences do you see in the two speeches?
2. Listen to Branagh giving the speech to the troops--does it
not even make your own blood rise? Shakespeare here demonstrates
that poetry can be a decisive military factor. Of course, its
power is not only in the choice and arrangement of the words,
but in the way it is spoken. This leads us to ask this: if Branagh
can stir us up with his acting, is Henry doing the same with his
troops, or is he really feeling this excited and confident?
Scene 4: Taking Harfleur
1. In the speech to the governor, what is Henry's threat, and
what is the strategy behind using it? Would Henry order his soldiers
to pillage, rape, and massacre if Harfleur continued to resist?
Or is his speech here, in their hearing, an implicit invitation
to do so?
2. Contrast Henry's command for the governing of Harfleur once
it surrenders with the threats he made before the city. What does
the contrast indicate about Henry's military leadership?
Scene 5: The Night before Agincourt
1.Describe henry's relationship with the nobles in the army, including
his brothers. What sort of message does he attempt to convey regarding
the upcoming battle?
2. Is Henry afraid? The Chorus relates that before the battle
of Agincourt Henry appeared before his men "with cheerful
semblance." And after speaking with Erpingham, Henry muses
to himself about how "cheerfully" he speaks. Is Henry
putting on a cheerful face for his men? If he is afraid, by what
power is he putting on such a semblance?
3. What is on the minds of the English soldiers before the battle?
Why are they willing to fight in this war?
4. Should the common soldiers judge the justice of the war? Are
there limits to what the king can justly command them to do?
5. In what ways does Henry encourage his soldiers to take responsibility
for their own souls? Does Henry deny all responsibility?
6. Is Henry's argument about the good that war provides a valid
one? Is he trying to persuade himself as well as his soldiers?
7. What does Henry's refusal to accept ransom if captured indicate
about his character as king?
8. What is the issue of the quarrel between (disguised) Henry
and Williams? Why is the issue important to the play?
9. Henry rhetorically asks "What have kings that privates
have not too, save ceremony?" But is this correct? Is this
all that kings have that private men do not? More importantly,
exactly what sorts of things and behaviors is Henry talking about
when he speaks of ceremony? What is the political purpose of ceremony,
and why is it effective? Is the ceremony speech a "grass
is always greener on the other side" complaint by a rather
fortunate man feeling sorry for himself? Or does Henry have a
real charge to bring against Ceremony, which he describes as an
"idol" and a "proud dream"?
10. What does Henry's prayer reveal about his character?
Scene 6: The Saint Crispin's Day Speech
1. What reason does Henry give for not wanting even one man more
in his army?
2. What promises does Henry make to the common soldiers in order
to muster their courage for the fight? To what passions does he
3.What is the value of glory won on a battlefield? Does it lie
in proving one's courage or in being remembered, or in both? Or
is there something else in addition to these about glory, perhaps
even something impossible to express rightly with any but a poet's
Scene 7: Henry's Courtship of Katherine
1. What effect might Burgundy's speech have on the negotiations?
What effect does Shakespeare's inclusion of Burgundy's speech
have on the play and its themes of fighting and war?
2. Why does Henry send his lords to the negotiating table and
choose to stay with Katherine? Does this show his political naivete
and innocence, or his political acumen?
3. Must Henry court Katherine if her marriage to him is a part
of the peace negotiations? What does his desire to court Katherine
reveal about his character?
4. What does this scene between Katherine and Henry suggest about
what their marriage will be like? Is Henry manipulating Katherine
with his rhetoric that he is just "plain soldier" and
"plain king," or could his playfulness reflect his perception
that he has something to learn from her, and through his relation
1. On the night before Agincourt, Henry (disguised) argues to
the soldiers he meets that the king is a man "as I am."
What argument does he make? Is it valid? Is it ironic? How does
Henry in this scene with the soldiers demonstrate both his common
humanity and his superior virtue?
2. In the conversation Henry has with the common soldiers before
the Agincourt, the question of the justice of the war arises,
and the responsibility the king bears if the war is an unjust
one. Is the issue of the justice of this war and the king's responsibility
resolved in this scene, or even in the play as a whole? What factors
bearing on this issue arise in the play?
3. In his St. Crispin's Day speech, Henry refers to the men with
him at Agincourt as "a band of brothers." And the Chorus
in the prologue to Act IV describes Henry's encouragement to those
he meets as "brothers, friends, and countrymen." In
what senses is "brother" used in this play, and to what
4. To what extent should a political leader be an actor? Recall
why Coriolanus felt a leader shouldn't be an actor at all, and
recall several instances when Henry V employs acting.
5. What qualities make Henry a successful king? Use specific
examples of how Shakespeare shows that Henry possesses these qualities.
6. Why does Shakespeare end the play with what is in effect a
love scene? Is love simply another area of control and domination,
so that courtship is war by another name, or are marriage and
family appropriate blessings that the harsher aspects of life