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Literature Study GuidesHenry VAct 5 Scene 1 Summary

Henry V | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry V | Act 5, Scene 1 | Summary



Still in France, Gower and Fluellen have an exchange in which Gower asks why Fluellen is wearing a leek even though St. David's Day is over. Fluellen launches into a long explanation about how Pistol brought him bread and salt the day before, to eat with his leek, and so now Fluellen will wear the leek in his cap until he meets Pistol again. When Pistol enters Fluellen tells him he can eat the leek. Pistol refuses and Fluellen strikes him, saying, "If you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek." Pistol finally eats the leek.

After Gower and Fluellen exit, Pistol reveals that his wife, Mistress Quickly, has died. Pistol says he will likely become a pickpocket and thief when he returns to England: "To England/will I steal, and there I'll steal."


Wearing a leek on St. David's Day (March 1) is a Welsh custom that honors St. David, the patron saint of Wales. By mocking his leek, Pistol insulted not just Fluellen but the Welsh in general. Fluellen makes Pistol eat the leek in retaliation for this insult, a scene oddly reminiscent of Henry V's reaction to and retaliation for the Dauphin's insulting tennis balls.

The reference to St. David's Day, however, brings up an inconsistency in the timeline of the play, because historically the Battle of Agincourt takes place in October, not in March. It is possible that Fluellen wears the leek to honor Henry V, and Gower is mistaken in his dating of St. David's Day. It is also possible that Shakespeare is drawing a parallel between Henry V and St. David and doesn't mind that this causes a timeline problem.

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