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The second lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series looks at King Henry V, and asks whether his presentation in the play is entirely positive.
A famous reading by the critic Norman Rabkin is Emma Smith's starting point here: the drawing of a rabbit that looks like a duck (or vice versa). Rabkin says that's the analogy for Henry V (a topical play dating from 1599) and the vexed question of the play's attitude to its charismatic military hero. Looked at one way, Henry is indeed 'the mirror of all Christian kings'; looked at another he is a sinister and brutal politician. The play's interest for us, I think, is the effect of toggling between these two views.
- Download: 02_henry_v.mp3 Audio