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Henry V | Plot Summary

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Summary

Henry V begins in the royal palace in London. The archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of Ely are trying to figure out a way to keep Henry V from using church resources for other purposes. The archbishop suggests Henry V claim the throne of France. He knows of certain laws of inheritance that could be seen as giving Henry V the right to do so. When the Dauphin of France (the son of King Charles VI) sends Henry V an insulting gift of tennis balls, implying that Henry lacks the maturity to be king, Henry decides conquering France wouldn't be a bad idea after all.

As Henry readies his army for war, Bardolph, Henry's friend from his irresponsible youth, reveals to Pistol and Mistress Quickly that Falstaff is ill. Soon, Falstaff is reported to be dead. Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol head off to fight in Henry's army with the boy as their servant. In addition three of Henry's trusted noblemen are found to be involved in a treasonous plot on the king's life. Henry has them executed.

Henry V's forces invade France, finding the French ill-prepared and easily beaten. Henry secures the surrender of the town of Harfleur using his ability to evoke images of the terrible violence his soldiers will cause. Meanwhile, Pistol, Nym, Bardolph, and the boy engage somewhat reluctantly in the fighting. Captains Gower, Fluellen, MacMorris, and Jamy are introduced as leaders in Henry's army.

The night before the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V disguises himself with a cloak so he can walk unrecognized among his soldiers. He speaks with them and listens to their thoughts about the war and the king (himself). He jokingly vows to duel with one of them, Williams, after the battle. He soliloquizes about the burdens of kingship and his own feeling of responsibility for his people and his country.

In the morning Henry, having shed his disguise, gives his St. Crispin's Day speech to motivate his soldiers before leading them into battle. Despite the French army's greater numbers, the English win with few casualties. Henry V feels God has looked on him with favor, and he gives thanks to God for the victory.

Henry V returns to England and, later, goes back to France to sign a peace treaty and ask for the hand in marriage of Katherine, the Princess of France. The marriage will mean that Henry's son will become king of both France and England, although an epilogue reveals that Henry V dies shortly after his son's birth and that Henry VI loses France during his reign.

Henry V Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction

Introduction

1 King Henry V is persuaded he has a right to France.

Rising Action

2 The Dauphin of France sends King Henry V an insulting gift.

3 King Henry V angrily declares war on France.

4 King Henry V assembles an army and enters France.

5 Harfleur surrenders to King Henry V's invading force.

6 King Henry V's forces continue despite French threats.

7 King Henry V walks in disguise among his men before battle.

8 King Henry V gives the St. Crispin's Day speech to his men.

Climax

9 King Henry V and his army defeat the French in battle.

Falling Action

10 King Henry V returns to England and cheering citizens.

11 King Henry V humbly gives God credit for the success.

Resolution

12 King Henry V woos and wins the French Princess Katherine.

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