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‘In Henry V and The Rover it is money that makes the world go round.’ Paper

King Henry V from Henry V and Willmore from The Rover will be used to discuss how the statement, ‘In Henry V and The Rover it is money that makes the world go round’. This will be looked at via the means of character stereotypes, rhetorical skills and conservative endings in each text and how these tools portray the male characters in a generally positive light but a in a role which revolves around money. This discussion will go on to suggest that different moral perspectives of the twentieth century have been expressed in productions of Henry V and The Rover and have sometimes served to intensify this aspect of the two plays.

Owens (p. 77 in Owens W.R and Goodman L. (Eds.) (1996) Shakespeare, Aphra Behn and the Canon: Routledge/Open University REF) describes the historical King, Henry V, as ‘canonical’. As a legendary war hero and a popular monarch, he had already been idealized in the historical accounts on which Shakespeare based his play. In Shakespeare’s version of events, Henry V is dramatized in his public role (with little reference to his private feelings) becoming an idealized

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‘Christian king’ (The Arden Shakespeare: King Henry V 1.2.242 (1995), Craik T.W. (Ed.): Thomson)). He demonstrates piety and justice throughout the play. Shakespeare moves away from historical fact to preserve this positive image. However, alongside this positive image of Henry V is the emotive subject of money. Throughout this Shakespeare play, money appears to be the principal concern. Henry V is portrayed as a stereotypical hero and King. He is successful in leading his country through battle. He is merciful when it comes to avoiding bloodshed. ‘Use mercy to them all’ (Henry V 3.3.54). He is portrayed positively and as such money is used to emphasise his status and how he is set apart from his subjects. This treatment of money as a tool to emphasise his rank affects how the audience would purvey Henry V. Shakespeare portrays Henry V as ‘Christian king’ who does not fear money and will not be manipulated by it. ‘I myself heard the King say he would not be ransomed’ Henry V 4.1.185). King Henry V refuses to be affected by this situation. ‘If I live to see it, I will never trust his word after’ (Henry V 4.1.190).

While Henry V is a stereotypical hero, Willmore is a stereotypical comic figure. He is an ‘extravagant rake’ (p,161, Shakespeare, Aphra Behn and the Canon); a stock figure in Restoration drama who tends to behave recklessly and

Mrs. Julie Ward

W9630582

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promiscuously with great verbal wit. Some of Willmore’s behaviour is undeniably negative; he pursues both Hellena and Angelica at the same time, he attempts to rape Florinda while drunk and he becomes seriously interested in Hellena only after hearing of her wealth. However, his ‘swinging appetite’ (The Rover 1.2.174, p.272 Shakespeare, Aphra Behn and the Canon) is a source of humour within the comic stereotype and is not intended to be taken too seriously. He readily shares his motivation with the audience in many asides, for example: ‘Ha! My gypsy’s worth two hundred thousand crowns! Oh, how I long to be with her!’ (The Rover 185-6, p.302) inviting laughter at his duplicity. The reaction of Hellena: ‘I can’t be angry with him, he dissembles so heartily’ (The Rover 3.1.130-1, p.287) after observing him leave Angelica’s house and boasting of his conquest, also supports the view that he should not be regarded too critically. This of course is in direct contrast to the behaviour of Henry V with regards to money. Willmore reveres money and will do anything to get money. He is manipulated by it and selfish in his means of obtaining money and therefore wealth. However, although money in The Rover is a central theme, it is treated almost comically with the use of Willmore’s outrageous behaviour and other characters reaction to his greed. For example the reaction of Hellena when she sees him leaving Angelica’s house.

Mrs. Julie Ward

W9630582

TMA 07

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The rhetorical skills of Henry V are persuasive in encouraging an audience to sympathise with the difficulties and responsibilities faced by a King and also to demonstrate how Henry V views money as a responsibility and not as a comical subject. Disguised as a common soldier, Henry V faces his most intense scrutiny about bringing his country to war when he is challenged by Williams: ‘But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make’ (Henry V 4.1.34-5). Though he can persuade the men ‘Every subject’s duty is the King’s, but every subject’s soul is his own’ (Henry V 4.1.175-6), he cannot avoid reality that men will die in battle. The effect of this criticism is mitigated as Henry V expresses the pain his responsibility causes him:

‘Upon the King! ‘Let us our lives, our souls,

Our debts, our careful wives,

Our children and our sins lay on the King!’

We must bear all.

Henry V 4.1.227-30

Here the list of responsibilities create a regular iambic rhythm which adds to the image of their oppressive weight communicated by the word ‘bear’ (4.1.230.).

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W9630582

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King Henry V’s distress is clear. Even in his most desperate moments, money is still at the forefront of his mind being listed in this mass of responsibilities Henry V faces.

The rhetorical skills of Hellena in The Rover enables her to claim the power in her relationship with Willmore and thus the attention of the audience. She declares ‘I don’t intend every he that likes me shall have me, but he that I like’ (The Rover 3.1.35-6) and goes on to use his own technique of telling a lover what they want to hear in order to get her own way. By matching herself with him: ‘I am as inconstant as you’ (The Rover 3.1.160) she both highlights the awareness that she has with regard to the fact that WIllmore is after her money but she also alerts the audience to his attractive features, his wit and humour and presumably, his physique.

In the final scene of Henry V there is a contrast between the formal language of the peace negotiation and the informal language of the marriage agreement between Henry V and Katherine. In an era when political marriage was common and future offspring important for the security of kingdoms, Henry is presented as attempting to build the foundations of a companiate financially sound

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relationship. Katherine is aware of his role-playing and is not afraid to say ‘That the tongues of men are full of deceits?’ (Henry V5.2.118-9). While in reality she has no power to refuse Henry, her yielding to his persuasion signals a restoration of order which characterizes Henry V as a responsible monarch. While modern readers might imply criticism for Henry due to the commodification of Katherine, and Elizabethan audience would be aware of the importance of succession and thus would be more likely to view the event in a positive light.

Jordan (1972), quoted in Shakespeare, Aphra Behn and the Canon) describes Willmore as a ‘one man mardi-gras’ (ibid. p.162) and interprets his marriage to Hellena as ‘the passing of carnival and the acceptance of responsibility’ (ibid. p.162). While there is no indication that Willmore has any intention of being a faithful husband, he appears on the surface to be well-matched with Hellena so in some sense a moral order is restored. In casting Willmore as a cavalier, money obsessed character, the marriage also restores a dispossessed supporter of the king to property; a just restoration of social order in the eyes of a contemporary audience of The Rover. This conservative ending, like that in Henry V, has the effect of drawing a metaphorical line under what has gone before and leaving an audience with a generally positive view of Willmore.

Mrs. Julie Ward

W9630582

TMA 07

Page 7

This discussion illustrates the fact that the statement ‘In Henry V and The Rover it is money that makes the world go round’ is relevant though in different ways. Money is portrayed differently in each play, one being comical and the other being serious and responsible. The different treatment of money in each of the two plays affects the meanings that are conveyed to the audience as has been highlighted in this discussion.

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