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Shakespeare Henry IV Before The Shining Walls Of Harfleur

Shakespeare - Henry 5 - Before The Shining Walls Of Harfleur

Before The Shining Walls Of Harfleur

In the play Henry V, during the siege of Harfleur, King Henry delivers a speech, which stirs the battle-weary men (who are thinking of deserting before the coming winter), into a frenzy, winning the battle and continuing the siege. Later, as a result, Harfleur surrenders. Henry's speech is masterfully delivered, with good use of grammatical schemes, an inventive use of tropes, and a cunning grasp of the troops' needs and mindset, or pathos. The speech is delivered as a motivational gesture, from the king to his subjects. He uses the speech to manipulate these common soldiers from many different countries into a patriotic camaraderie, the spirit in which the enemy was defeated.

Henry uses several distinct schemes in his speech. He opens his speech with a repetition, "Once more onto the breach, dear friends, once more;"(III.i.1) which implies that they have all been working hard and are tired of fighting, and he realizes this as much as them. He opens the speech this way so he can appeal to their patriotic spirit, and tell how cowardly it would be to give up now, after all they have done. At the same time, he sets a common ground between them, one soldier to another. Later, he uses a wide range if roughly parallel phrases, telling them to "lend the eye a terrible aspect", "set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide", and "Hold hard the breath and bend every spirit / To his full height." (III.i.6-17) He does this to get them into the spirit of battle with these phrases, and essentially says 'get ready, be courageous, act fearsome.' Next, he uses antithesis in his claim that "Fathers that, like so many Alexanders, / Have in these parts from morn till even' fought / and sheathed their swords for lack of argument" (III.i.19-21). He is saying, essentially, that their ancestors took joy in the simple act of war. They tended towards being soldiers so much that they would fight just for the sake of fighting, regardless of alignment or reason. But these soldiers do have the reason, and it is a war, so they should fight doubly hard as their forefathers.

Next, there are the numerous tropes that Henry uses. Figures of speech and comparisons one of Henry's...

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