Summary and Analysis Act III: Scene 1



This scene, consisting solely of a soliloquy by King Henry, contains many famous passages; in fact, this speech is probably the best known speech in the entire play. The scene is Harfleur, where Henry, surrounded by his troops, urges them on to one more supreme effort. Henry's speech proves that he knows his men well; speaking plainly and to the point, he appeals to their manhood, their ancestry, and their love of England:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry, "God for Harry! England and Saint George!" (33-34)


This speech confirms for the audience the personal and inspiring leadership of King Henry V. Even though some critics have dissected the speech and found it lacking, it is nevertheless one of the most inspiring war speeches ever uttered, and apparently it is very successful in spurring the soldiers on to make one more supreme effort. Lines 6-17 seem to suggest that in terms of the various passions of man, his spiritual emotions are directly dependent upon his physical state. In times of peace, the manly virtues are quite proper and will suffice, but in times of war, man must put aside manly virtues and become a virtual beast. It is the duty of the soldier to become a beast, and his actions should be in imitation of a wild beast — the blood is to be "summoned" and the sinews "stiffened."