Notes on Shakespeare's "King Henry V" (Cliffs notes) Paperback – 6 Jan 1961
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After providing a very brief section on the Life of Shakespeare and Genealogical Tables of the royal families involved in this particular history cycle, Fisher writes a general plot summary of "Henry V" and lists the characters in terms of the English and the French. As is usual with the little yellow books with the black stripes, the Summaries and Commentaries section goes through the play scene-by-scene. The ideal way of using these sections is to read the commentaries after you have read the corresponding scene. This is important because Fisher does not make as much use of the actual dialogue of the play as I have seen other Cliffs Notes do with Shakespeare (he does, however, provide a loose translation of the scene [Act III, Scene 4] in French between Katharine and Alice), on the off chance a translation is not provided in your copy of the play. After this main section, Fisher provides a very brief Character Summation of the title character.
All things considered, I would judge this to be an average Cliffs Notes. One of the great utilities of this particular play comes from the two film versions that exist. Whether I was teaching this play, or any other work of Shakespeare, I always show my students the Prologue and Act I of "Henry V" from the Olivier and Branagh versions. The Olivier version has the virtue of staging these particular scenes on the stage of the Globe Theater, representative of an actual performance of Shakespeare. In contrast, Branagh's version provides an intense intimacy. Taken together the two versions show students the range available in Shakespeare (aspects played for comedy in one version are dead serious in the other). Even if you do not screen all of either film, it is worthwhile to devote one class period to showing students the opening of both films.
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