King Henry V Study Guide

King Henry V

King Henry V by William Shakespeare

Henry V is a historical dramatic play following the reign of Henry V of England and his conquest of France. The bulk of the action within the play takes place before and immediately after the era-defining Battle of Agincourt at which Henry's English forces triumph soundly over France's armies. Henry is shown as a mature ruler in the prime of his life, and the play shows him entering the world of statecraft and generalship.

Henry V is a play by William Shakespeare based on the life of King Henry V of England. It deals with the events immediately before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War. The play is thought to date from the first few months of 1599 and is the final part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II, Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II.


  • O! for a muse of fire, that would ascendThe brightest heaven of invention!

    A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,

    And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

    Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,

    Assume the port of Mars, and at his heels,

    Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire

    Crouch for employment.

  • Chorus

Act I

  • Consideration, like an angel, cameAnd whipp'd the offending Adam out of him.
    • Archbishop of Canterbury, scene i

  • Turn him to any cause of policy,The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,

    Familiar as his garter; that, when he speaks,

    The air, a charter'd libertine, is still.

    • Archbishop of Canterbury, scene i

  • So work the honey-bees;Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach

    The act of order to a peopled kingdom.

    • Archbishop of Canterbury, scene ii

  • We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;His present and your pains we thank you for:

    When we have match'd our rackets to these balls,

    We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set

    Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.

    • King Henry, scene ii

Act II

  • Base is the slave that pays.
    • Pistol, scene i

  • Sure, he's not in hell; he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. 'A made a finer end, and went away, an it had been any christom child; 'a parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o’ the tide: for after I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers, and smile upon his fingers' ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a’ babbled of green fields.
    • Mistress Quickly, scene iii

  • As cold as any stone.
    • Mistress Quickly, scene iii

  • Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin,As self-neglecting.
    • Dauphin, scene iv


  • Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;Or close the wall up with our English dead!

    In peace, there’s nothing so becomes a man,

    As modest stillness and humility:

    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

    Then imitate the action of the tiger;

    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.

    • King Henry, scene i

  • And sheath'd their swords for lack of argument.
    • King Henry, scene i

  • I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,Straining upon the start. The game's afoot;Follow your spirit: and upon this charge,

    Cry— God for Harry! England and Saint George!

    • King Henry, scene i

  • I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.
    • Boy, scene ii

  • Men of few words are the best men.
    • Boy, scene ii

  • This is the latest parle we will admit:Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves,

    Or, like to men proud of destruction,

    Defy us to our worst: for, as I am a soldier,

    (A name, that, in my thoughts, becomes me best,)

    If I begin the battery once again,

    I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur,

    Till in her ashes she lie buried.

    The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,And the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart,

    In liberty of bloody hand, shall range

    With conscience wide as hell; mowing like grass

    Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.

    What is it then to me, if impious War,

    Array'd in flames, like to the prince of fiends,

    Do, with his smirch'd complexion, all fell feats

    Enlink'd to waste and desolation?

    What is't to me, when you yourselves are cause,

    If your pure maidens fall into the hand

    Of hot and forcing violation?

    What rein can hold licentious wickedness,

    When down the hill he holds his fierce career?

    We may as bootless spend our vain commandUpon the enraged soldiers in their spoil,

    As send precepts to the Leviathan

    To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur,

    Take pity of your town, and of your people,

    Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;

    Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace

    O'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds

    Of deadly murder, spoil, and villainy.

    If not, why, in a moment, look to see

    The blind and bloody soldier, with foul hand,

    Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;

    Your fathers taken by the silver beards,

    And their most reverend heads dash'd to the walls;

    Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,

    Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confus'd

    Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry

    At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.

    What say you? Will you yield, and this avoid?

    Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy'd?

    • King Henry, scene iii

  • For when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner.
    • King Henry, scene viii (or vi)

  • I thought, upon one pair of English legsDid march three Frenchmen.
    • King Henry, scene vi

  • You may as well say,— that’s a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion.
    • Orleans, scene vii

Act IV

  • The hum of either army stilly sounds,That the fix'd sentinels almost receive

    The secret whispers of each other’s watch.

    Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames

    Each battle sees the other’s umber'd face:

    Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs

    Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the tents,

    The armourers, accomplishing the knights,

    With busy hammers closing rivets up,

    Give dreadful note of preparation.

    • Chorus, prologue

  • There is some soul of goodness in things evil,Would men observingly distil it out.
    • King Henry, scene i

  • Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.
    • King Henry, scene i

  • That’s a perilous shot out of an elder-gun.
    • Williams, scene i

  • The wretched slave,Who, with a body fill'd, and vacant mind,

    Gets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread.

    • King Henry, scene i

  • Such a wretch,Winding up days with toil, and nights with sleep,

    Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king.

    • King Henry, scene i

  • If we are mark'd to die, we are enoughTo 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,

    Nor care I, who doth feed upon my cost;

    It yearns me not, if men my garments wear;

    Such outward things dwell not in my desires:But, if it be a sin to covet honour,

    I am the most offending soul alive.

    • King Henry, scene iii; variant editions read: If we are mark'd to die, we are enowTo do our country loss ...

  • O, do not wish one more!Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,

    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

    And crowns for convoy put into his purse:

    We would not die in that man's company,That fears his fellowship to die with us.

    • King Henry, scene iii

  • This day is call'd— the feast of Crispian:He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,

    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

    He that outlives this day, and sees old age,

    Will yearly on the vigil feast his friends,

    And say, "To-morrow is Saint Crispian;"

    Then will he strip his sleeve, and show his scars,

    And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."

    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

    But he'll remember, with advantages,

    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

    Familiar in his mouth as household words,—

    Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter,

    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,

    Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.

    This story shall the good man teach his son;And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by

    From this day to the ending of the world,

    But we in it shall be remember'd,—

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me,

    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

    This day shall gentle his condition:

    And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,

    Shall think themselves accurs'd, they were not here,

    And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks,

    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

    • King Henry, scene iii

  • There is a river in Macedon; and there is also moreover a river at Monmouth;... and there is salmons in poth.
    • Fluellen, scene vii

  • O God! Thy arm was here,And not to us, but to Thy arm alone,

    Ascribe we all.

    • King Henry , scene viii

  • An arrant traitor, as any's in the universal 'orld, or in France, or in England.
    • Fluellen, scene viii

Act V

  • There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in all things.
    • Fluellen, scene i

  • By this leek, I will most horribly revenge; I eat, and eat,— I swear.
    • Pistol, scene i

  • All hell shall stir for this!
    • Pistol, scene i

  • A fair face will wither; a full eye will wax hollow: but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or, rather, the sun and not the moon; for it shines bright, and never changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me: and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king: and what say'st thou then to my love? Speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee.
    • King Henry, scene ii

  • If he be not fellow with the best king, thou shalt find the best king of good fellows.
    • King Henry, scene ii

  • Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country's fashion: we are the makers of manners, Kate.
    • King Henry, scene ii

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