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Nick Rutte,















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The King's Sfleech:Rhetoricaland Poetic Devicesin Henry V

, King Henry introducesa crucial part of his rallying

In the earliestpart o

speech,"If we are mark'd to die" (4.3.20). First, "if is a small but effectiveword putting doubt
in the certaintyof death,and being "mark'd to die" implies life or deathas a temporalmatter of

fate, not a cefiainmatter of statistics,which is Westmerland'simplied argumentthat this speech


respondsto (16-19). The imminent possibility of deathis mentionedsparinglyfor the speech's

remaining forty-sevenlines (20, 38-39, 61), so thatthrspathos-basedargumentisn't challenged.
This argument downplaying the significance of death leads directly into the next facet of
King Henry's argument, "The fewer men, the greater shareof honor" (22). Honor is introduced

yl a s so m e thin g ca1cu1able,notasaccur a t e ly a s a n o b je c t , b u t @b e mo re o rle _=-=--_
of while sharins it. "Greater" functions both as a desisnator for amount and masnitude of the
-- While the "greater share"as an amountis larger,the amountof sharinggoing on is not
greateramong "fewer men", so in this sense,this syllogism can be understoodalso as an
oxymoron. The King dismissesthe idea of greedas a motive for honor, "By Jove,I am not
covetousfor goldA{or care I who doth feed upon my cosl" (24-25). As a King, he probably
shouldhave no reasonto



[als like the lower classesmaking up the fighting

majority, however this is de{igned equalfuethe King and his subjectson the battlefield in an
attempt to improve his e/ftos;tl*i

of unity is also used in contrast with the threat of

exclusionin lines 35-39 which will come up later. "By Jove" is also one of three lines to begin


Rutter 2

with placing"God" next to "I" (23, /4,371, enforcingthe ideathat The King is God/God'swill,


Anglicancnufun.whichwhilenot existentin thesettingof Henry

h a definingcharacteristic6f-rhe

tt f f ry ln,l *ur veryestablishedV

in 1599whentheearliestaccountof performingthis playwasrecorded
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The King useshis rhetorically establishedpiety as way to discreditWestmerland's

argumentwith, "God's will, I pray thee wish not one man more" (23) "God's will" and "pray"
are deliberatelyclose;the King puts himself on the side of God and also as representingGod's

/ ot

will. Meanwhile, he calls Westmerland'slamentsfor more support"wishinA/| secularword

one. He
, which undermines
,wdatWestmerland once more, "No, faith, my coz,wish not a man from England" (30).
wishing for more
The rhetoricalfigure of repetition,reminding his cousinthat faith supersedes
men. Also the order of the words "no, faith, my coz" may also continue the insinuation that
Westmerlandhas no faith.
The King's alignmentwith God alsojustifies his lust for honor, "But if it be a sin to covet
honor, I am the most offending soul alive." (28-29).Again, honor is presentedin the position
of a physical, materialpossession,somethingto covet,which rs a sin. But this rhetoricaldevice
justifies covetingas long as it's honor. The king has alreadyalignedhimself with God and His
will, so obviously, he cannotsin. The word "alive" is an encouragingone in the midst of death,
which again,is not mentioned when King Henry can help it.
Later in the speech,more poetic and dramaticdevicescome into play, like metadrama
in the lines,"It yearnsme not if men my garmentswear; Suchoutward things dwell not in


my desires"(26-27). The ideaf the king's role transcendshis clothesis anothersupporting

argumentin attemptingto dissolvedifferencesbetweenhimself and his men. In this casethe

Rutter 3
actor sayingthe lines would be guilty of wearing other clothes, In the King's case,he may not
needto dwe

ial possessionsanyway if he alreadyhas them; however the rhetoric's

pupose l to 6\pco inue the attemptto equalizehis level and the level of his subjects.

, I would not lose so greatan honor/As one man more methinkswould share

from me/For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!" (3 I -33). T.+yQrflte "God's peace,"

separatedby the coffina, is the inferred idea of what Westmerland should wish for instead of
more men (30). "One more man" would take away the power of faith The King feels at this
moment.Does this meanthat his faith is actually weak if they do come upon more men?The
intention is to boost the morale of the men in the companywho are dismayedat the lack of menbetter to have them secureand confident in fighting with the amount they have then having one
newcomerwithout this securityoffset the balance.The besthope implies the only hope-Thisis
the most l.ulnerablepart of Henry's speech,as it admits that this faith, this hope againsthope,is
the only thing he's got-yet that enoughis reasonto fully get behind it. The alliterationof "man

more methinks" might be understoodbeyond its aestheticas more men meaningmore thinking,
understoodto be a bad thing in this situationwhen King Henry arguesthat all that is necessaryis
faith in God/him and a desire for honor.
The King engagesin turning Westmerland'slament into a declarationof pride,"Rather
proclaim it, Westmerland,through my host/That he which hath no stomachto this fight/Let him
depart,his passportshall be made/Andcrowns for convoy put into his purse." (34-31).Henry's
focus is not only to quell requestsfor more men, but to amplifu requestsfor less,as in to sort
out those"which hath no stomach"from the effective soldiers."No stomach"meaningboth no
nauseatolerancefor the gruesomesightsof battle,but also implies and literally meaning"no
guts", no courage,and by proxy, no glory. Mentioning that he'll pay and give a safepassageto

Rutter 4

Slens |n"^r

those who deser|is**ilfeff+f

his rejection of wealth and materials in favor of honor-the idea is

that you don't want these"crowns for convoy", you want the honor. Also, they'll be trading in a


sense"crowns" which can meanloyalty/honor"for convoy", meaninga passagehome. They'll

be "put into his purse" insinuating that they won't earn the money either, undermining the sense


of honor that has beenbuilt up to this point. The "let" in "let him depart", is a passiveverb-the
phraseimplies that nobody is forcing them to fight, that they can leave any time, and discourages
any patriotsfrom fencing in the unwilling soldiers.
Insteadof relying on physical coercion,the King usesthe threatof exclusionmentioned
earlier,"We would not die in that man's company/Thatfearshis fellowship to die with us." (38-

39). The chiasmusof subjects[We (would not) die] [Man's company] [His fellowship] [Die with
us] assumesa fellowship amongthosewho are willing to die fighting,
are not willing to fight have their fellowship with their kinsmen die
which hath no stomach",sayingthat it's not worth dying in his co

ies that thosewho

"he Srrh'i

speechis supposedto createunity with all classesand all soldiersagainstone cause,he usesthe
threatof dividing and segregation,to achievethis goal. At this point, we are mathematicallyat
the middle of the speech,emphasizedby the column break in the edition of this book.
The secondhalf of the speechdescribesthe contrastto the men fearful of death,much of
it is emphasizedthrough repetitionand catalogues,which are tracedback to the sprawlingwar
epicsof Homer. "Crispin" or "Crispian" is mentioned six times in this half of the speech(40,
43, 44, 46, 5J, 67), andfour times in the first eight lines (40-48). "[T]he feastof Saint Crispin"
(40) is a time of celebration,and Henry's repeatedremindersmay seekto transposethe revelry
associatedwith this holiday onto the battle as a meansof distractionfrom the possibility of
death.It may also serveas the beginningsof having his soldiers,as well as the audience

Rutter 5
to "rememberwith advantages"(50). The brief list of famouswarriors on lines 53-54connects
the previous ideas of sharing honor with "household words"; King Henry has now attemptedto
dissolvethe classbarriersand now raisethem to the level of theseheroes.He furthersthe
encomium of his men by referring to them as "good men" (56) and "gentlemen" (64).