The Pathetic Appeal in King Henry’s “Band of Brothers” Speech
The following speech is taken from Shakespeare’s play, Henry V (Henry the Fifth). Here, the army of King Henry is preparing to face the forces of France, who vastly outnumber his own dwindling forces.
In order to check on the morale of his troops, Henry has disguised himself as a common soldier to move among his men and eavesdrop on their conversations. He learns that they are very much afraid and that some of them wish to break ranks and run.
One of his generals, the Earl of Westmorland, cries out that he wishes they had another 10,000 soldiers so that it would at least be a fair fight. At that moment, Henry throws off his disguise and presents the following speech, chock-full of pathetic appeal, in order to invoke the particular emotions that will prepare his men for the bloody fight against a superior force.
Henry’s army will win this battle, which will be decisive and end the war with victory going to England. This speech, Shakespeare implies, was instrumental in securing Henry’s victory over the full might of the French army.
Your assignment is first of all to identify the particular emotions Henry invokes and then to discuss the particular way in which he invokes them. For this second task, ask yourself
A) What is the typical state of mind of those who experience these emotions? That is, what do you imagine are the basic feelings that, when combined, give rise to those emotions?
B) What vivid images associated with those feelings does Henry paint in the minds of his men? And C) towards whom are each of these emotions directed?