Henry V By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 2

Summary

The scene shifts to the French camp where everyone is ready to go to battle. The sun has risen and it is time to begin. There follows a brief scene in French, loosely translated as follows:

Orl.    The sun doth gild our armour; up, my lords!

Dau.    Mount me on my horse; you, my valet, my lackey. ha!

Orl.    Oh noble spirit!

Dau.     Begone, water and earth.

Orl.     Nothing more? only air and fire.

Dau.     Heaven also, my cousin Orleans.

(This scene is a continuation or a conclusion of the last scene in Act III, when the Dauphin was discussing the merits of his horse, which, according to him, possesses only fire and air; he now adds to those qualities that of heaven also.) A messenger enters and says that the English forces are also ready, and the Constable gives the call to mount up. He and the others pity the small, beleaguered English forces and hope that they have said their prayers. He has so much confidence in his superior force that he is sure that the mere appearance of his army will cause the English to "crouch down in fear and yield." A French lord, Grand-pré, enters and continues to ridicule the poor "bankrupt" and "beggar'd" condition of the Englishmen. Impatient for battle, the Constable grabs his banner and cries to his men to take the field.

Analysis

The remainder of this act reads, in part, like a pure chronicle — that is, Scene Two is set in the French camp, and then we shift to the English camp in Scene Three, and then we have a comic interlude, and then we return to the French forces on the battlefield, and then to the English forces. As noted earlier, the frivolity of the French is contrasted with the seriousness of the English. The extended insults heaped upon the English by the arrogant French officers prepare the audience to relish even more the defeat of the French forces, which have shown such utter contempt for the English. The dramatic irony is that the audience knows what is going to happen, and the French forces are totally ignorant of their fate.

In the beginning of this scene, the Dauphin still speaks of his horse as being possessed of no such common elements as earth and water, but of being made of pure air and fire, the same sentiments that he expressed in his last speech. In doing so, we now realize that the night has passed and, with the dawn, the battle is about to begin, and the French are still overconfident.

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About what action does Henry say the following? "I will weep for thee; / For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like / Another fall of man."




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