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Portrayal of Henry V by Shakespeare: Discursive Essay

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Shakespeare describes Henry V as a wise and loyal king. Henry V changed from a wild youth to a very mature king who gained recognition from society. He was intelligent, thoughtful, and carried out his duties with enormous efficiency. His invasion plans for France were so strategic and this aspect explains his sense of responsibility. His strong speech inspired confidence and courage in the army and which went a long way to enable them to win the battle. He had huge abilities to fight as well as astute administrative skills. All over the play and production, Henry appears religious and full of compassion. He renewed the claims of his family to the French throne after many years of war. In the production, the overall message that Shakespeare attempts to display is that England was a land of brave people, just as exemplified by Henry V. Shakespeare is one of the most influential and famous writers in history. Henry V's production portrays the past as well as the aspects of love and hate, humor, and tragedy.

The main producer of the Henry V play is William Shakespeare with his director Nicholas Hytner. The set designer was Tim Hatley with Mark Henderson as the lighting designer. Simon Webb and Paul Groothuis were the music and sound designers respectively. The play was performed live at the national theatre in August 2003. The production began with a chorus which formed the basis of the music in the theatre. Drum-beating also characterized the music sections of the play. Also, the audience could hear obscene chants that were drowning out with uplifting feelings and strains of the Jerusalem that were playing as the background music. The chorus was played by Penny Dawnie where she could be seen consulting her archival records while narrating the story. In the initial actions feature Penny Downie who appeared as a slight figure. She was picked out by a follow spot. She was dressed in a dark calf-length skirt, red shoes, and a blood-red cardigan. The color of the costumes spoke volumes. Symbolically, red, being the color of blood symbolized a bloody battle. Penny Downie walked down the vast fields of the matt-black stage heading to the audience. In her hands were several books and after a little while, she paused and sat down at one of the dozens of chairs. The chairs were arranged around an oval table on the stage. She began glancing through one of the volumes on her lap. Suddenly, she looked up with an air of displeasure and snapped the book shut since she did not see what she was attempting to look up for. She uttered opening words for the play. The opening words she articulated acted were seemingly acting as an apology to the audience requesting them to breathe off the disbelief and enter into the spirit of the play. To keep the audience engaged, the production’s running time was ample with intermissions. The chorus sang serves dramatic purposes in that what it reported was evident in the scenes. The action formed the bulk of the production.

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The setting of Henry V in the national theatre has been updated to the present day with very dramatic effects. Tim Hatley, in his minimalist mode, used Hytner’s imagination fully. His plots present memorable moments for the play. The stage is equipped with a memorable large television screen that displayed the actors and their actions as pop stars three times their normal body sizes. The war with the French has been displayed like a visual feast thus appealing to the American television station where the play was staged. The music used was the soft rock soundtrack and nicely fitted the occasion. Adrian Lester was among the best actors of the play and through his performance and with him leading, he enhanced a remarkable cast.

Lester could enunciate the Shakespearean verse profoundly and this made him the best. He ensures that he created a contemporary feeling to the language he used and kept with Hytner’s basic premise. The courtiers and the King were presented more like a cabinet or a company’s board making the stage look experienced and organized. The King looks sharp and suited when debating with the French. The King argues in a witty way and with impeccable skill. He looked organized and more of a CEO of some big organization when discussing the takeover of a rival. Besides, Shakespeare used two jeeps that drove around Olivier’s massive stage which carried soldiers. The jeeps included Robert Blythe’s funny Llewellyn. Harfleur

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Portrayal of Henry V by Shakespeare: Discursive Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“Portrayal of Henry V by Shakespeare: Discursive Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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