The Strategy Of The King Of England English Literature Essay

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In order to discuss a rhetorical strategy that Henry the Fifth King of England used, it is first necessary to define what a rhetorical strategy is. A rhetorical strategy is "effective thinking, writing, and speaking strategies; rhetoricians analyze and evaluate what works and what does not work in a specific context."(Minnesota) Henry uses patriotic rhetorical strategy, which is the feeling, expression, or inspiration by love for one's country. He uses this to motivate his soldiers at the battle at Harfleur and to encourage his troops when they are outnumbered five to one on the battlefield at Agincourt. This patriotic rhetorical strategy that Henry V used shows today that his conception of England was not merely his own but in fact belonged to everyone; everyone was equal and just as noble as Henry himself when they were fighting beside him. This contradicts his role as King of England because he was supposed to have absolute power and also that no one was to be equal to the King, who was thought to be equal with God.

Henry's first inspirational speech to his soldiers was on the battlefield at Harfleur, France. King Henry uses patriotic rhetoric to motivate his troops on the battle field. Henry says:

"Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,

Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit

To his full height. On, on, you noblest English,

Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,

Fathers that like so many Alexanders

Have in these parts from morn till even fought,

And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest

That those whom you called fathers did beget you.

Be copy now to men of grosser blood,

And teach them how to war. And you, good yeomen,

Whose limbs were made in England, show us here

The mettle of your pasture. . . ." (Shakespeare III.i.6-27)


Henry is uses a patriotic rhetoric to motivate his soldiers by inspiring them; he does this by giving them an inspirational speech which is increased the soldiers' patriotism. King Henry gave his soldiers pride of their ancestry because he talks about "Fathers like so many Alexanders," which means that many fathers before them fought like Alexander the Great, who was a great warrior and king, and who had also won many battles and was remembered for his ferocity. Henry then goes forth to exclaim, "[d]ishonour not your mothers." This gives the soldiers a sense of pride: Henry makes them want to fight for their country and honour because it makes them want to avoid disgrace to the honour of their families. Additionally, Henry reminds his soldiers of the significance and relevance of their birthplace by saying "and you, good yeomen, Whose limbs were made in England, show us here". Henry is reiterating to his soldiers where they came from; their birthplace is the great empire of England. He expresses the importance of showing what one is metaphorically made of and also the importance of demonstrating to the French that England is a great empire and is therefore not to be taken lightly.

This speech rallies his soldiers to make one last push at Harfleur and consequently they came out victorious. This strategy has some implications to the King's power because he is assembling his soldiers on patriotism and honour, and also that they must prove themselves in order to be called great warriors. This lowers the King's absolute power to the same level as the common soldier, which could hurt his reputation because he is stating that he himself, along with his soldiers, must prove himself on the battlefield. This is could have been seen as detrimental for his image as monarch because he was supposed to have already proved himself, simply by being the king and having the bloodlines of kings before him. Therefore, Henry should not by that standard have to prove anything. Henry lowering himself to the level of a common soldier could have hurt his authority because the soldiers might not be sure with his decision-making because he is telling them he has to prove himself and does not have the full qualifications to lead and might start questioning his authority to lead and make well educated decisions.

Henry then goes to speak to his soldiers once again before going to battle the French at Agincourt when they are outnumbered five to one. He says;

"If we are marked to die, we are enough

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God's will, I pray thee wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold," (Shakespeare IV.iii.20-25)

Henry is saying that there is enough of them to be a loss to the country and sympathizes with his soldiers that the odds are not in their favour. It is also clear that it will be a great loss to the country if they shall not return, but if for some reason they live, there will be more honour to go around to each person because they are so few in numbers. This inspires the men because of the thought that each soldier will leave the battle with a great honour to bring back to his family in England if they stay and fight against the odds of five French soldiers to every English soldiers. Henry then goes on to say that he does not want to fight with any man he wants to fight with Englishmen and says all who do not want to fight are not true Englishman, and can return home. Then goes on to say that anyone who stays to fight will have something to boast about for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, he says that every commoner that stays and fights along his side will be thought of as his brother, and that all the rest of the people back in England will wish they were here in France to gain honor and glory. Henry is using patriotic rhetoric quite well he has given his soldiers a sense of camaraderie in that they are all fighting for one cause which is for their country. This contradicts his role as King because he is calling every soldier that is fighting with him his brother, which means they are both equals. This is could hurt his respect because the soldiers may not obey his orders and follow all of his decisions because the soldiers will think of themselves as friends of the king and challenge his decisions instead of just executing them.

To conclude, one can see that King Henry uses not just any rhetoric; he uses a patriotic rhetoric to motivate his troops by increasing the soldiers' patriotism. This is great for King Henry to get his troops motivated because they are not just fighting for him, they are fighting for their country and personal glory. This strategy shows that Henry conception of England is that he fights for the wellbeing of the country and not just for his own gain because he truly thinks he is the rightful ruler of France because of his ancestry. Using this patriotic rhetoric contradicts his role as King of England because he is suppose to have absolute power and that no one can be equal to the King and that the King was thought to be equal to God.