Once more unto the breach…

A lovely way to end a long day.

Just finished a couple of hours exploration with the beautiful Phil Desmeules on Henry V. Just the two of us working together, throwing ideas around, gently closing in on this character of Henry.

We are both intrigued by him, and no doubt for different reasons. Henry is achingly charismatic, and however much we are aware of his faults, we are drawn to him. Today we were enjoying how playful Henry can be, how he cannot sometimes help himself but be cheeky, to test convention and to push the boundaries of his palace world.

It is interest to contrast this side of Henry’s character with the single minded, pious, warrior king that he so often inhabits. We are both aware of these sides to Henry – both Prince Hal and King Henry V combined – and it is curious to see how these facets of his character inform each other.

There is something in the headstrong self-assuredness and recklessness of King Henry that makes him ruthless. His desire to take back the French kingdoms is so single-minded, the reasons clear and simple in his mind. He is driven by the same unshakeable belief that this is ultimately his life’s purpose and responsibility. At the same time, there is an energy, a lightness that he can’t shake off.

In the end we came back to the Hemingway quote that has been running round my head for the last few days,

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Does the world break Henry?