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Awake remembrance of these valiant dead: Henry V and the politics of the English history play

Thorne, A. (2002) Awake remembrance of these valiant dead: Henry V and the politics of the English history play. Shakespeare Studies, 30. pp. 162-87.

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Abstract

"A PROPAGANDA-PLAY on National Unity: heavily orchestrated for the brass" was how A. P. Rossiter summed up Henry V in 1954. (1) The assumption that this play is complicit with the promonarchical, nationalist rhetoric of the Chorus, and with the particular myth of Englishness it propounds, has persisted. In recent years the most cogent articulation of this view has come from Richard Helgerson, who sees the play as the culmination of Shakespeare's gradual tightening of his "obsessive and compelling focus on the ruler" during the writing of his English history cycle, at the cost of occluding the interests of the ruled.