Literature Study GuidesHenry VAct 5 Scene 2 Summary

Henry V | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry V | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Henry V visits the king and queen of France, Charles VI and Isabel, to come to terms on a peace treaty, although the terms are mostly Henry's and they must agree to them. One of his demands is the hand of Katherine, Princess of France, in marriage. As the king and queen exit, Henry tries to persuade Katherine to love him, using both English and broken, mispronounced French. She seems unpersuaded by him but notes that if her father decides she will marry Henry, she will be content to do so. They kiss and the French queen and king, the Duke of Burgundy, the Duke of Exeter, and the Duke of Westmoreland enter. King Charles agrees to Henry's terms.

Analysis

Since Henry V took on his quest for France because he believed he had an ancestral right to it, he strategically ensures that his own heirs will inherit the throne by marrying the Princess Katherine. It is a solid business deal and Katherine is the payoff: "She is our capital demand, comprised/Within the forerank of our articles."

Despite the fact that he suggests to Katherine herself that the union is a romantic one—saying it is a "love-suit" and asking her to love him "soundly," Henry admits that poetic words of love are not his strength, nor does the scene seem particularly romantic. This disparity is well in keeping with the symbolism and constant theme of Mars (war-making) and Venus (love-making) that runs throughout all the plays by Shakespeare. He speaks to Katherine not in flowery poetry, but in prose, and gets straight to the point: "I/speak to thee plain soldier. If thou canst love me for/this, take me." His negotiations with her soon turn to politics, with its emphasis on conquest and bloodlines: "But, in loving me, you/should love the friend of France, for I love France/so well that I will not part with a village of it. I will/have it all mine. And, Kate, when France is mine/and I am yours, then yours is France and you are/mine." Thus though he uses the language of romance, he invites her into a business partnership based on their shared "love" of France, appealing to her love of country as well as the potential power she will secure for her children. After all, he implies, their heirs will rule both France and England.

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