Henry woos Katherine

Act 5 Scene 2 – Key Scene

In this scene, Henry tries to woo Katherine, who he intends to marry. Henry can’t speak much French and Katherine speaks very little English, although she understands a little of Henry’s meaning.

Take a look at an extract from this scene and watch it in performance here. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? During rehearsals, actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    Katherine
    Is it possible dat I sould love de enemy of France?
    Henry V
    No, it is not possible you should love the enemy of France, Kate; but in loving me, you should love the friend of France, for I love France so well that I will not part with a village of it; I will have it all mine: and, Kate, when France is mine and I am yours, then yours is France and you are mine.

    How much of this is an act from Henry and how much of it does he mean?

    Katherine
    I cannot tell vat is dat.

    Does Katherine understand more than she is letting on?

    Henry V
    No, Kate? I will tell thee in French. Je quand sur le possession de France, et quand vous avez le possession de moi—let me see, what then? Saint Denis be my speed!—donc vôtre est France et vous êtes mienne. It is as easy for me, Kate, to conquer the kingdom as to speak so much more French. I shall never move thee in French, unless it be to laugh at me.

    When I have possession of France, and when you have the possession of me.

    Saint Denis help me! (Saint Denis is the patron saint of France)

    Katherine
    Sauf votre honneur, le français que vous parlez, il est meilleur que l’anglais lequel je parle.

    Therefore yours is France and you are mine.

    Henry V
    No, faith, is’t not, Kate. But, Kate, dost thou understand thus much English, canst thou love me?
    Katherine
    I cannot tell.
    Henry V
    Can any of your neighbours tell, Kate? I’ll ask them. Come, I know thou lovest me. And at night, when you come into your closet, you’ll question this gentlewoman about me; and I know, Kate, you will to her dispraise those parts in me that you love with your heart, but, good Kate, mock me mercifully, the rather, gentle princess, because I love thee cruelly. If ever thou beest mine, Kate, as I have a saving faith within me tells me thou shalt, I get thee with scrambling, and thou must therefore needs prove a good soldier-breeder. Shall not thou and I, between Saint Denis and Saint George, compound a boy, half French, half English, that shall go to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard? Shall we not? What say’st thou, my fair flower-de-luce?

    bedroom

    Struggling

    Mother of soldiers.

    Lily, the flower on the French coat of arms.

    Katherine
    I do not know dat.

    Where are the moments of humour in this scene?

    Henry V
    No, ’tis hereafter to know, but now to promise. How answer you, la plus belle Katherine du monde, mon très chère et devin déesse?

    Saving your honour, the French that you speak, it is better than the English that I speak.

    Katherine
    Your majestee ’ave fausse French enough to deceive de most sage demoiselle dat is en France.

    False.

    Wise.

    Young lady.

    Do you think Henry and Katherine are well matched as a couple?

  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud. Are there any words or lines that really stand out?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of Henry V at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for this scene feel right to you?