Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2017 Bandana Singh
Shakespeare’s Henriad delves into questions of divine authority, political process, and the role of class in society. Most importantly, however, the text tracks the shifts in leadership and kingly identity. Richard II paints the portrait of a king infatuated with his own divinity. Richard’s journey from anointed king to deposed mortal captures the dissolution of his fantasy of invincibility. Inciting Richard’s demise, Henry IV effectively disturbs the passive obedience which the king’s subjects maintain; in doing so, the kingship begins to shift away from divine authority, moving into a vacuum of rebellion and civil conflict. Meanwhile, the previously profligate Prince Hal turns towards his duties; in proving himself to his father, he begins to accumulate honor, redeeming himself as a capable heir. Hal’s ascension as Henry V and his subsequent success as a king provides a stark contrast to the discontent during Richard’s reign. As the presence of divinity recedes, the theme of honor appears more frequently throughout the Henriad. Prince Hal views honor as an external commodity which can be accumulated by an individual. Honor, as presented by Henry V, seemingly converts an intrinsic trait or virtue into a commodity with economic value, allowing for the establishment of his own political legitimacy. Using the plays in the Henriad as my primary texts, I intend to examine this political and ideological transition by connecting Richard's divine right to Hal's construction of an economy of honor.
Singh, Bandana, "“Your unthought of Harry”: Political Legitimacy and the Economy of Honor in Shakespeare's Henriad" (2018). Scripps Senior Theses. 1140.