Literature Study GuidesHenry VAct 3 Scene 7 Summary

Henry V | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry V | Act 3, Scene 7 | Summary

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Summary

The Constable, the Dauphin, Lord Rambures, and the Duke of Orléans, are talking together in the French camp. The Dauphin is boasting about his horse and expanding upon how much he loves it, preferring it even to a mistress. The others make fun of him, his love for his horse, and his fancy armor. They continue to make fun of him after he exits. A messenger enters to tell them the English are nearby. They ridicule England and Henry V and expect a quick and brutal victory.

Analysis

The boasting of the French, especially the Dauphin, is childish. Compared to Henry V, who so eloquently boasted of his soldiers' strength even as he described their weaknesses to Montjoy in the previous scene, the language of the French seems silly and unrefined, full of coarse jokes about women and horses. For all his faults Henry V is still painted as an epic hero, brilliant and ruthless, while the French are shown to be crude and lazy.

Hearing the lines aloud becomes an important tool to interpret the interaction between Orléans, Rambures, and the Constable. Orléans's lines seem to praise the Dauphin, but only serve to encourage the jesting. Whether an actor delivers these lines earnestly or sarcastically can influence the way the audience reacts. The ambiguity Shakespeare built into his plays explains, in part, why they are enduring even today. The audience is engaged in weighing opposing points of view to determine for themselves right and wrong; this play of opposites is likely a device picked up from the morality plays.

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