Ideal Kingship in Shakespeare’s Henry V
One of Shakespeare’s most beloved characters, King Henry V has long been revered as “the mirror of all Christian kings.” However, many contemporary scholars reject this interpretation, drawing attention to Henry’s nationalism, Machiavellian ideals, and use of military force, for example. Such arguments ultimately undermine Henry’s complexity. Alluding to the epic tradition, Shakespeare situates Henry within a larger external narrative. From loveable youth to capable leader, it is Henry’s humanity that establishes him as the ideal king.