Summary and Analysis
Act IV: Scene 7
In another part of the battlefield, Fluellen and Gower discuss Henry's order to kill all the French prisoners. Gower is delighted, and Fluellen compares the king to Alexander the Great.
The king and several associates enter, along with the French herald, Montjoy, who admits the French defeat and describes the carnage of the battlefield in great detail. The king declares that this victory will be remembered as the Battle of Agincourt. Fluellen expresses his love and loyalty to the king, and Williams enters and explains to the king that he is looking for his glove in someone else's cap; he is ready to fight the rascal if only he can find him. The king mischievously hands Fluellen his glove, telling him that he took it from the French Duke of Alençon. To make sure that there is no serious trouble, Henry sends Gloucester and Warwick to watch Fluellen and Williams; he will follow to observe the fun.
This scene is rather diverse and diffused in structure. The opening discussion by Fluellen and Gower over the senseless and unheard of slaying of the sick, the unarmed, the wounded, and, worst of all, innocent young boys by the French soldiers causes Henry's men to remark upon the king's sense of justice. Both Fluellen and Gower feel that such measures are absolutely justified, and in justifying them, Fluellen compares King Henry to Alexander the Great, one of the most bloody conquerors of the ancient world. Here, however, we should remember that whereas Henry is trying to establish an imperialism, Alexander was at a loss to know what to do when there were no more lands to conquer; for that reason, the analogy to Alexander is not necessarily a flattering one.
King Henry's appearance on the stage shows his incensed rage over the massacre of the young English boys.
I was not angry since I came to France
Until this instant. (58-59)
His anger leads him to utter threats of harshness and inhumanity, and he threatens to kill those not yet captured if his orders are not obeyed. However, when he is assured of victory, his humility is restored in the moment when he gives full and complete credit for the victory to God:
Mont. The day is yours.
K. Henry. Praised be God, and not our strength, for it.
At this point in the battle, Henry is still willing to carry on his private joke with Williams, the character he promised to do battle with if they were both alive after the day's battle. Instead, however, he gives the glove to Fluellen, a man whom he admires greatly, and then sends others to see that no real harm ensues.