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7 - Instrumentalizing Anger

Warfare and Disposition in the Henriad

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

David Loewenstein
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Paul Stevens
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

Shakespeare’s canon includes many military figures, but arguably none is more successful than Henry V. In the play, the key to success is shown to lie in the king’s ability to instrumentalize the vehement emotions necessary to wage war. Shakespeare presents anger in Aristotelian terms as a hierarchical emotion reserved for elite men tasked with military leadership. The king’s deft use of anger demonstrates his self-discipline from his decision to invade France until his overwhelming victory there. This self-discipline distinguishes him from the quarrelsome soldiers (like the choleric Fluellen) who serve under him. The efficacy of Henry’s anger becomes evident when juxtaposed with the contrast in 1 Henry IV between his father’s ineffectual coldness and the reckless tempestuousness of Hotspur. In Henry V, the cool performance of hot emotions makes Henry a modern man of wrath.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Further Reading

Altman, Joel. “‘Vile Participation’: The Amplification of Political Violence in the Theater of Henry V,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 42 (1991), pp. 132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barker, Simon. War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Breight, Curtis C. Surveillance, Militarism and Drama in the Elizabethan Era, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cahill, Patricia A. Unto the Breach: Martial Formations, Historical Trauma, and the Early Modern Stage, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Enenkel, Karl A. E., and Traninger, Anita. “Introduction: Discourses of Anger in the Early Modern Period,” in Enenkel, and Traninger, (eds.), Discourses of Anger in the Early Modern Period, Leiden, Brill, 2015, pp. 115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fisher, Philip. The Vehement Passions, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fraser, R. Scott. “Henry V and the Performance of War,” in King, Ros and Franssen, Paul J. C. M. (eds.), Shakespeare and War, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 7183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meron, Theodor. Henry’s Wars and Shakespeare’s Laws: Perspectives on the Law of War and the Later Middle Ages, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Paster, Gail Kern. “Belching Quarrels: Male Passions and the Problem of Individuation,” in Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004, pp. 189241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Somogyi, Nick de. Shakespeare’s Theatre of War, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1998.Google Scholar

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