Main MenuOverview by Sujata Iyengar and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin'Henry V' : A Guide to Early Printed Editions by Daniel Yabut“with rough and all-unable pen…” : Source Study and Historiography in Shakespeare’s 'Henry V' by Mikaela LaFavePistol and Monsieur Le Fer: An Anglo-French Encounter by Charlène CruxentUniversité Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, IRCL, UMR5186 CNRSMaking & Unmaking National Identity: Race & Ethnicity in Shakespeare’s 'Henry V' by Nora Galland'Henry V' Onstage: From the Falklands War to Brexit (1986-2018) by Janice Valls-RussellThe Problematic Reception of 'Henry V' in France: A Case Study by Florence March“For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings”: Henry’s Popular Afterlives by Philip Gilreath“On your imaginary forces work”: How 'Henry V'’s Chorus Changes the Play Text during Olivier’s Film by Julia KoslowskyA Guide to Teaching 'Henry V' and its Sources by Hayden BensonStudy QuestionsKey Scenes and Speeches from 'Henry V'Back Matter
Fluellen Intimidates the Cowering Pistol
12019-01-28T21:03:58-08:00Lucas Robert Vaughn2fd95f848abe6ef38fdfcb397a83f65216883bbd296035A drawing of Fluellen towering over Pistolmeta2019-06-29T18:44:13-07:00Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fluellen_terrifying_Pistol.jpgca. 1850ImagePaul BarlowN/APublic DomainWatercolor PaintingJoseph Noel PatonN/AHayden Benson7d69b3398da384eb9196529b557c5a84032c3d8c
Act 4, Scene 4 displays the only direct confrontation between the French and the English army during the battle of Agincourt in Henry V. Monsieur Le Fer is presented as the other. Defined by foreign and barbarous terms in order to identify him as the enemy, the French – standing for its nation – is to be conquered through language. In an attempt to “tame” him, Pistol renames his opponent: he manipulates Le Fer’s cultural identity using French anglicized words so as to coin a new name. Pistol’s empty threat of physical violence brings to mind Henry V’s comparison between France and a maid: both of them need to be conquered by soldiers, thus suggesting sexual violation.
Monsieur Le Fer’s submission to Pistol symbolizes the defeat of the French side, but the depiction of the English soldier as an unheroic, worthless braggart qualifies this triumph. The bravado Pistol shows makes this scene nothing but a farcical parody of combat, thus pointing out a malfunction within Henry V’s army. Despite the king’s efforts to unite the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Londoners against the French, this aggressively comic scene is a reminder that violent tensions still persist against the other, the other being defined more from a cultural than a geographical point of view. Even if the eponymous character’s military forces vanquish their political opponent, France, another internal challenge remains: the definition of Britishness and the construction of a “united” United Kingdom.