Act III, Prologue
We are now to pretend that we watched Henry V embark on his ships from England and sail to the coast of France at Harfleur. We should also pretend that we saw the French King offer Henry his daughter Katherine and some useless Dukedoms in an attempt to appease Henry. Twist ending: it didn’t work.
Act III, Scene 1
King Henry delivers a rousing speech to his troops to get them all pumped up for battle. He reminds them that they are all English and that means they are awesome. They need to bring forth this awesomeness in order to be epic warriors. Each and every man has the noble spirit to fight for England.
Act III, Scene 2
Henry’s speech has certainly made an impact of Bardolph who cries out the beginning of Henry’s speech, as best he can remember it. Nym doesn’t really feel like fighting and Pistol is singing a battle song. Falstaff’s boy wishes he was in a tavern. Fluellen arrives to spur the men on to battle. After they all leave, the boy wishes he had better men to serve. These men are thieves and all around unsavory. He resolves to seek out better service.
Gower informs Fluellen that the Duke of Gloucester has requested his presence at the tunnels. Fluellen finds this ridiculous and not in keeping with the rules of war set out by the Romans. It seems that Gloucester is being advised by an Irishman, Captain MacMorris. Fluellen does not think much of Captain MacMorris and his war abilities.
Just then, Captain MacMorris shows up. He isn’t too happy that the retreat was called before he could finish the tunnels. Fluellen tries to take this opportunity to argue his own case, but MacMorris doesn’t think it’s the right time to discuss it. Fluellen doesn’t get off to a good start when he mentions MacMorris’ nation. MacMorris is offended by what is sure to be an insult against the Irish. Fluellen explains that is not what he meant and wants to be put to use like he should be. MacMorris is still mad. Gower tries to calm the situation, but a parley trumpet sounds to distract the men from their argument. Fluellen, getting in the last word, asserts that he is knowledgeable about the art of war and he should be put to better use.
Act III, Scene 3
King Henry asks the town of Harfleur if they have decided to yield the town. He advises them to do so because he isn’t going to wait around anymore. He will burn their city to the ground and kill every man, woman, and child within it.
Following Henry’s graphic description of what would happen, and considering the fact the French King can’t really help them right now, the town decides to yield to Henry. Henry tasks Exeter with maintaining Harfleur while he goes on to Calais.
Act III, Scene 4
Katherine is trying to learn English by learning the names of body parts. It goes okay.
Act III, Scene 5
The French King confirms that the English are close. All of them lament what terrible Frenchmen they are. They keep losing to the English. Shouldn’t the English be worse at this with their rainy climate? All of the women of France mock them for their pitiful failures.
The French King puts an end to this pity party by calling all of the noble men of France to take their armies to meet Henry in battle. One of the nobles points out that Henry’s army is sick and tired after their long march. Everyone is now convinced they can win. The French King tells the Dauphin to stay behind with him. This disappoints the Dauphin, but the King insists.
Act III, Scene 6
Fluellen comes from Harfleur to meet Gower. He confirms that the Duke of Exeter is doing well and is holding the city. He also speaks well of another man in Exeter’s command, Pistol. And wouldn’t you know it, Pistol showed up at exactly that moment.
Pistol is concerned for the fate of Bardolph. Fluellen interrupts to explain the metaphorical significance behind Fortune’s imagery. She is blind because she is…wait for it…blind. She is also painted with a wheel because she is inconstant. Bringing us back to the point, Pistol explains that Bardolph was caught stealing and has been sentenced to death by hanging. Pistol begs Fluellen to speak with Exeter to spare Bardolph. Fluellen thinks that Bardolph should hang and Pistol storms off.
Gower remembers Pistol in this moment, and not fondly. Fluellen assures him that Pistol fought most bravely. Gower explains to Fluellen that Pistol only goes to war to come back and claim glory. He doesn’t actually do anything but makes himself look good. Fluellen swears to call Pistol out the next time he sees him.
The King arrives and approves of Bardolph’s sentence. Shortly, a messenger from the French King arrives. He tells Henry that the French let him take Harfleur and they will no longer allow him to march through France. Henry thanks Montjoy for the message and sends a message back in return. He admits that his army is ill, so he would prefer to avoid battle and pass through France in peace. However, he will not shy away from battle should the French engage him.
Privately, he hopes that a battle won’t happen.
Act III, Scene 7
The Constable of France brags that he has the finest armor in France. The Duke of Orleans agrees, but insists that he has the finest horse. The Constable agrees, but here comes the Dauphin. It turns out he has the best horse in the world. The other two agree that it is a fine horse because he is a Royal after all. The Dauphin then goes on and on about the nearly mythological properties of his horse. Orlean tells him he’s going on a bit too long, but the Dauphin doesn’t care. Orleans laughs at how the Dauphin has come very close to writing a love poem to his horse. Then they start talking about horses like their women, throwing in a little actual horsemanship in here and there.
The Lord Rambures is tired of being totally silent in this scene so he chimes in with a wager on how many prisoners he and the Constable take. The Constable does not accept the bet. The Dauphin goes off to prepare for battle.
Orleans comments on how ready the Dauphin is for battle. He is sure the prince will fight most valiantly. There is no doubt among the men that the Dauphin will do well on the battlefield. However, he will do no harm. This is something the Dauphin is apparently proud of. Then, the Constable and Duke of Orleans start hurling cliches back and forth. Orleans wins.
A messenger shows up to let them know that the English are close. They scoff at the English because they know that the English are not as excited about fighting as they are. Even as they make fun of the English though, they must comment on the bravery of English mastiffs…
Act IV, Prologue
Chorus lays the scene of preparing for battle by both camps in the night. The French are over-confident and play dice games. The English are sitting around the fires fearing for their fates in the morning. King Henry, in disguise, walks from tent to tent and tries to rouse some courage in his men.
We must forgive that only a couple actors will be on stage to depict the scene at Agincourt.
Act IV, Scene 1
Henry tries to be optimistic in the face of insurmountable odds. He remarks how the presence of their enemy has made them early risers and force them all to confront the reality of the situation and prepare. After Sir Erpingham comments on his pleasure at joining the King on the battlefield, Henry explains how such an outlook is to the benefit of all the men. He then borrows Sir Erpingham’s cloak and promises to meet the rest of the generals in his tent.
As Henry begins wandering the camp, he runs into Pistol, who is pretty grumpy. He apparently blames Fluellen for Bardolph’s death, so when Henry (in disguise) claims to be his kinsman, Pistol immediately rails against Fluellen. Henry is somewhat caught off guard by Pistol’s passionate anger.
Then, Henry overhears Fluellen complaining about how the English are not conducting themselves in accordance with the ancient rules of battle. They are being far too loud and boisterous. Gower attempts to defend the English, but Fluellen is having none of it. Gower eventually concedes.
Finally, Henry runs into a couple common soldiers. He tries to gauge how they are feeling and is not too pleased with what he hears. One soldier, Williams, argues that if they die – which is almost a certainty – their lives will be on the King’s hands. Henry finds this idea preposterous (for obvious reasons) and argues the men’s sins are their own and dying on the battlefield for their King does not make it his fault. The argument eventually becomes heated and they challenge each other to a fight, should they both survive. They swap gloves to ensure they will be able to find each other.
Once alone, Henry continues to scoff at the idea that their deaths would be his fault. He then goes on a long rant about his life, with all it’s ceremony, is so much harder than a peasant’s. They can sleep easy with few cares, but Henry has so much to worry about.
Henry is called back to his tent to meet with his generals. Before he goes, he prays that his men find their courage and fighting spirit.
Act IV, Scene 2
The French take the time to comment on how great they are, especially compared to the English. The English are all starved and sad and ready for death. But, the French are awesome and PUMPED!
Act IV, Scene 3
The gloomy men prepare to die and wish that they had more men, like all those men they left back in England. Henry overhears this and dismisses it. He delivers the most famous speech of the play. He explains that fewer men means great share of the glory because everyone he fights on this day, St. Crispian’s Day, will remember their fight and be remembered for it. All of the men back in England will be ashamed that they weren’t here. The men who fight with the King today are his brothers.
The French ask Henry to surrender and he pretty much says, “over my dead body.” York will lead the charge.