ENGL 2P80 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Chivalric Romance, Tragic Hero, Collective Memory
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Henry V Wounds, Scars and Blood
The play oers alternative perspectives from France and within the English
Community justi#cations of war,
The 100 years’ war was a series of events that generated opportunities for
English men and women to feel a part of a successful, glorious community.
England was no longer the conqueror of France.
Moments like this, generated complicated feelings for English Audience –
Pride as well as loss and shame.
To dramatize an event like this, and make it the center of the dramatization of
the reign of a monarch of Henry V is to ask the audience how they think of
themselves as English. What Is it that ties the English together?
Wounds, Scars and Blood
When soldiers #ght in battle, these are inevitable.
They have an additional function, they act as signs, records of the fact that a
war had occurred. Records whose meanings are very 7exible.
The meaning of a scar will depend upon who is talking about that particular
scar and Henry V dramatization of this dramatizes for us a contest over the
meaning over these bodily records of war. A contest not between the English
and the French, but within the English Community itself.
The play is as much about the divisions within the English community as it is
about the seemingly more prominent division between the French and
These are traces that will be put into historical narratives written by the
The stories he told himself to justify his actions are his ideological #ctions.
Every victor in warfare has his/her own ideological #ction.
Scars, wounds and blood become signs in these ideological #ctions. These are
embodied signs – written on the human body.
These signs are not unequivocal.
The identity of the community as collective agent consequently becomes one
of the major ideological #ction at stake of warfare and the writing of the
history of warfare. Collective memory is an extension of the kinds of power
and even the brutality of exercise in war.
Henry V the shifting signi#cations of the embodied traces of war indexes the
struggle of historical agency and community identity.
The play stages the process by which history and henry as its tragic/epic
agent are produced through the erasure of the common soldier and troops.
Henry emerges as the tragic hero of history in the play by erasing the
common soldier and their wounds.
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