The Theater: End As a Man

HENRY V

by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Such was the heroic acting style of Laurence Olivier in the film of Henry V that it has somewhat distorted an entire generation's perception of the play.

The text is rather more ambiguous.

Both Henry's character and his situation are fraught with parlous uncertainties. He has been a playboy prince who has boozed it up in the taverns with Falstaff. Does he possess the mettle for kingship? His men have divided hearts about the war in France. He must inspire them with "a little touch of Harry in the night."...

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