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Henry V - Shakespeare
I bought this book after a tour of the Globe Theater in London in Januari 2008, it seemed an appropriate souvenir. The requirements for the booklist for VWO English state that you have to read books from different time periods and read either poems or a play, and since poetry is not my type of thing this was a good time to get Shakespeare off the shelf. I expected a book that would be quite difficult to read, but once I had gotten into the story it really wasn't. Although I have to say, reading the Canterbury Tales had prepared me for the old fashioned English I encountered.
I had only read one or two plays before this one and it's quite different from reading a novel. A difference I don't enjoy. I like to really escape into a novel, while with a play I keep feeling like a spectator.
Shakespeare's Henry V is based on the life of a English king who reined in the early 15th century.
It is a play, with some directions and a mixture of a chorus and dialogue of the actors.
Henry, who after his fathers death had suddenly changed from a wild youth to a responsible king, believes he has a claim to the crown of France and invades said country. The scenes depict some fragments of events and the chorus is meant to bind it all together.
We see how the decision to invade is made, how an assasination of Henry by conspirators is prohibited shortly for departure, we see how a French town is taken, we see how things are in the English army and how the French king speeks to his advisors. We meet Katherine, daughter of the French kind, who tries to learn English. We see a herald who is send to Henry several times to offer him an escape is he pays ransom.
We see how both army's prepare for the battle at Agincourt, and how the English win with very little losses against the much larger army of the French. We see how peace is negotiated and how Henry tries to win Katherine's heart, their marriage is part of the negotiations.
Most of the characters are captains of the English army and noble advisors and relatives of the king. We also follow a small group of soldiers that is clearly there to bring some humour and a sense of 'common men' into the play.
I had never before read one of Shakespeare's works, the man clearly has a sense of humour, although maybe a different kind than mine, which might be due to the time in which he lived or the audience for which he wrote. I'm not craving for more but I might read more of his work some day, now that I've found it to be more accessible than I expected.
Geplaatst op 13-09-2010.
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