What Ideas about Leadership does Shakespeare Present in the First 3 Acts of Henry V?
In Henry V, Shakespeare conveys certain characteristics and relationships that are key to leadership. A leader may have to be ruthless, especially at Henry's time. In the 1400s, when Henry V lived, kings were expected to be there at the front lines with their men, and to lead armies with a ruthlessness that will help them win wars. Shakespeare presents Henry's ruthlessness in the invasion of Harfleur. When Henry delivers a threatening speech, asking Harfleur to surrender, he describes the consequences of not doing so. He paints a picture of how Harfleur is before invasion by saying,
'Your fresh fair virgins and your flowering infants.'
This picture is of innocent youth and peace. This utopian image is then contrasted when Henry carries on, saying,
'Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends,'
The king uses the 'f' alliteration to link the two images and show how he can destroy Harfleur, which shows a great deal of mercilessness.
He uses youths in his comparison as they are innocent and sweet, and do not deserve to die because the governor did not surrender. Another example of his use of guiltless youth and destruction is when Henry threatens to the people of Harfleur to have
'Your naked infants spitted upon pikes.'
The cold-heartedness of his description, and his threats of rape, murder and destruction, show that Henry has ruthlessness that he has used to his advantage to get what he wants. Shakespeare is showing the reader this ruthlessness that a leader may have to use.