‘If we are marked to die, we are enow.’ These are the famous words spoken by the great king Henry V, the man who could audaciously face death as if there was nothing to it. The person who could captivate the heart of the enemy of England’s daughter. But this is nothing compared to the great feats he got up to, not in the battle but the day before- St. Crispin’s day.
It is one day before the battle, all the kings men are looking forlorn, and have their minds already set upon death. It’ll need an intellectual and witty leader to change their minds. Henry V at this stage does two things, firstly he takes a risk so big that the whole country depends on it, ‘that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made…’ Secondly he knows this risk is effective as it brings the true colours out of people. If anyone does decide to leave it shows their cowardice and cowering self. The men have too much pride to accept this proposal of his, even the common and lowlife folk. This actually makes them think again. From here we learn that Henry is quite a bit of a thinker, as a calculated risk of this calibre requires some deep thinking-ahead.
Another memorable act that the great king does in this day is that he has the ability to make a negative argument have two positive outcomes. This is done when he doesn’t have enough men. He tells Westmoreland that as they have fewer men the honour and sense of victory will be much greater, ‘The fewer men the greater sense of honour…’ those who had this ‘honour’ could boast, show off and make others feel bad which in turn made them happy. Henry adds to this information that their names of his men will be said in people’s houses with respect and this day would be passed on for generations to come in stories fathers would tell their children. Also the men would look back on this day, say to his neighbours that ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispin’s Day’ then they’d pull up their sleeves show their battle wounds and their scars and say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day’. This part of the speech puts very vivid and happy images of the future into the minds of his men and for those who had a miserable life will have it turned upside down and have what only few people have; the fact that he participated in Saint Crispin’s day.
On top of all of this the king refers to his men as his brothers. This term would make his entire men feel closer to the king and feel that there is something worth to live for. Having this bond with the king and to be termed as his ‘brother’ is definitely that would be highly thought of. All of these features of the speech were designed to raise the morale of his men, which was done very well. All of this praise has to be to Shakespeare as it was he who portrayed Henry in this manner.