Discussion Questions for Shakespeare's Henry V.
Most of the criticism of this play centers on whether Hal has become a good person or a bad person. Consider his unjust war on France along with his ability to save the English from a destructive civil war. Is Hal good or bad? Does he have the right to perpetrate the actions of this play? .
Henry's war against France, justified by his supposed inheritance to the throne through his mother's line, enabled England to gain more land. Because the French violated the rules of war, Henry's attempt to conquer the French land was validated. Henry, presented as a good and bad ruler, proves himself good when he demonstrates his belief of obligation and duty to the people of England to regain the throne of France from the "imposters." By finding laws and loop-holes, Henry justified his declaring war against France, which gives him the right to perpetrate the actions of this play.
2. Consider the French in this play. Are they good or bad? Weak or strong? Do they deserve what they get? .
Portrayed as bad people inhabiting the land of England, the French attempt to defend their land by any means. When the Dauphin sends a gift to Henry as a means of mockery, Henry gets angry. Considering the ratio of French to English in the battlefields, the French logistically should have won, but because of the patriotism of the English, the French lose. It is not a question of whether the French were weak or strong, but whether the French had enough patriotism and love for their country to defend their land against the English. Because of the nationalism of the English, the soldiers fought with fervor and passion because they loved their country. Although the French broke the rules of war, they do not deserve the war in which they lost. The English were trying to conquer their land for selfish reasons.
3. Consider Kate's English language lesson at III, iv. Why does she not just hire an interpreter? .