Tear Jerker / Henry V

Theater Examples

  • The Chorus' closing monologue is terribly sad. Sort of an historical/Fridge Horror, but what Shakespeare's describing is Henry V's early death, his son Henry VI's inability to rule, and the beginning of one of the most bloody periods of the Wars of the Roses.
    The Chorus: Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crowned king
    Of France and England, did this king succeed,
    Whose state so many had the managing
    That they lost France and made his England bleed...
  • Williams' prose about the likely fate of the common soldiers in the upcoming battle is very bleak:
    But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy
    reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp'd
    off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all,
    "We died at such a place"; some swearing, some crying for a
    surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the
    debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard
    there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they
    charitably dispose of anything, when blood is their argument?
    Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter
    for the King that led them to it; who to disobey were against
    all proportion of subjection.
  • Mistress Quickly's description of the death of Falstaff manages to be both bawdy (she can only tell he's dead by feeling his penis) and completely heartbreaking (especially as performed by Judi Dench in the Branagh film):
    Nay, sure, he's not in hell: he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. A' made a finer end and went away an it had been any christom child; a' parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o' the tide: for after I saw him fumble with the sheets and play with flowers and smile upon his fingers' ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a' babbled of green fields. 'How now, sir John!' quoth I 'what, man! be o' good cheer.' So a' cried out 'God, God, God!' three or four times. Now I, to comfort him, bid him a' should not think of God; I hoped there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet. So a' bade me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my hand into the bed and felt them, and they were as cold as any stone; then I felt to his knees, and they were as cold as any stone, and so upward and upward, and all was as cold as any stone.
  • Henry praying before the Battle of Agincourt, during which he is both quietly badass and desperately guilt-wracked over everything he and his father have done to get to this point. Depending on the staging, he is downright frightened that everything still won't have been enough and he'll be punished for both their of sins. Jamie Parker's Henry, who spends a lot of the play shouting himself hoarse and visibly putting on a show of endless enthusiasm and energy, basically breaks down at this point.

Film Examples

  • The aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt in the Branagh film. The soldiers sing Patrick Doyle's composition of "Non Nobis Domine", not as a triumphant hymn, but as a song of grief as we follow Henry carrying the slain Boy all the way to a cart of the dead, witnessing all the death and destruction of that day.
  • The scene between the King and Captain Fluellen: "I wear it for a memorable honour ... "
  • Judi Dench as Mistress Quickly narrates the death of Falstaff: "So he cried out 'God, God...God,' some three or four times..."