Stephen Foley

Jul 3, 2023

Shakespeare's "Henry V" Part 1: The Story

A Discussion with Stephen Foley

New Books Network 2023

Henry V is one of the most celebrated of Shakespeare’s history plays. In the 1590s, Shakespeare wrote a series of eight plays based on English chronicle history, telling the stories of civil wars and wars abroad, of the rise and fall of kings. Henry V was an English monarch who won great military victories in France in the early 1400s, and Shakespeare dramatizes his famous victory at Agincourt. In this play, Shakespeare gives us the most heroic of his kings — while also showing us the process by which history and heroes are created. In this course, you’ll learn the story of Henry V, hear the play’s key speeches performed and analyzed by world-class Shakespearean actors and literary scholars, and learn what makes Henry V one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic heroes. In Part 1, you’ll be guided through a detailed account of the story with commentary by Stephen Foley, Associate Professor of English and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. You’ll learn the historical context behind the play and see how Shakespeare structured this war story both to scrutinize the English king and to offer a view of English society as a whole. This summary is told using the language of the play itself, placing key quotations in context to help you understand where these lines come from and what they mean.

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