Event Title

King Henry V: The Star of England and Übermensch

Presenter Information

James Davidson, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Fike, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 221

Start Date

24-4-2015 1:20 PM

Description

Previous criticism of Shakespeare’s Hal/Henry V as a “madcap prince” and fraudulent king is unjust. Preceding critics such as Jennifer Ann Bates, Marilyn Williamson, Harold Bloom, and Jamey E. Graham reach such negative conclusions about Shakespeare’s prodigal character. Analyzing the Henriad in conjunction with Nietzsche’s concept “will to power” suggests, in contrast, that Hal develops into a hero king commensurate with Nietzsche’s “Übermensch.” By recognizing Falstaff and Prince John of Lancaster as instances of will to power and foils to Henry V and by reading key scenes in court and tavern as developmental moments, this paper argues that Henry V is not morally compromised through sybaritic zeal or lack of responsibility. He instead gains a phenomenal wisdom that guides his passage to a skill and insight that compare favorably to Alexander the Great. Therefore, if Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” is the superior form of will to power, two conclusions arise from Hal’s progress through the tetralogy. First, the “Übermensch” is the supreme individual triumph, since the courageous trials stimulate progress by influencing members of the community. Second, the most celebrated examples of cultural shift result from such models of the “Übermensch.”

Comments

Presented at the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS), April 2015

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Apr 24th, 1:20 PM

King Henry V: The Star of England and Übermensch

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 221

Previous criticism of Shakespeare’s Hal/Henry V as a “madcap prince” and fraudulent king is unjust. Preceding critics such as Jennifer Ann Bates, Marilyn Williamson, Harold Bloom, and Jamey E. Graham reach such negative conclusions about Shakespeare’s prodigal character. Analyzing the Henriad in conjunction with Nietzsche’s concept “will to power” suggests, in contrast, that Hal develops into a hero king commensurate with Nietzsche’s “Übermensch.” By recognizing Falstaff and Prince John of Lancaster as instances of will to power and foils to Henry V and by reading key scenes in court and tavern as developmental moments, this paper argues that Henry V is not morally compromised through sybaritic zeal or lack of responsibility. He instead gains a phenomenal wisdom that guides his passage to a skill and insight that compare favorably to Alexander the Great. Therefore, if Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” is the superior form of will to power, two conclusions arise from Hal’s progress through the tetralogy. First, the “Übermensch” is the supreme individual triumph, since the courageous trials stimulate progress by influencing members of the community. Second, the most celebrated examples of cultural shift result from such models of the “Übermensch.”