Henry V Film Adaptation (Tom Hiddleston)

Like I previously did for the film The Merchant of Venice, I’d like to portray the differences and perks the film version of Henry V has over the Shakespearean play by the same name:

  • Unlike Shakespeare’s written work Henry V, the film adaptation by the same name is able to add emphasis to scenes through the careful selection of the characters’ costumes. When first introduced, Henry is darned in brown leather which sharply contrasts Canterbury’s harsh red cloak and gold jewelry. Just from this distinction, the audience can begin to infer that Henry is (for the most part) sensible, down-to-earth, well-intended in his actions, and a hard worker; leather is commonly deeply associated with the earth, homeliness and strength/labor. On the other hand, due to just an analysis of his clothing one can assume that Canterbury and (since he is the archbishop and therefore represents the church) the church in general is cloaked in blood, a readiness for war, and a need to separate itself from the lower class. Henry’s leather ties him to the people immediately; a connection that one really is not confronted with in the play until Act 4, Scene 1 when Henry talks to his soldiers as a commoner and his kingly status goes unnoticed. And, just as Henry’s attributes are later portrayed through his actions, so are the archbishop’s in Act 1, Scenes 1 and 2 when the church is wanting to financially support the King in his war with France with more money than the church has ever lent out before, when Canterbury is willing to bet his right intentions for the war on his own life, and when Ely (another extension of the church) directly refers to blood/brotherhood in Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 115-121. The film adaptation’s visual aspect in clothing layers the exact same story under the play’s original dialogue.
  • The film adaptation is also able to utilize props to supplement the actors’ dialogue, unlike a silent read-through of the Shakespearean play. Props are carefully used in the film in Henry’s speech to the French Ambassador in what is Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 259-297 of the original play. When the two characters begin to speak, Henry is shown standing between two fiery torches, he sits in his throne for a few moments between the torches, then gets up and circles the ambassador as if he is circling prey. Henry V TorchesWhen the confrontation is over, Henry has to have two men open the massively heavy doors that lead out of his throne’s chamber. The props – the torches, the dark throne, and the massive doors – add to the scene’s eeriness; it made me connect the scene to what Hades’ palace may look like in the Greek underworld, which is a fitting connection considering that Henry is furious for vengeance when speaking to the French ambassador.
    • However, the most important prop used in this scene to defend the actor’s intent is the tennis balls Henry receives from the ambassador as a mocking gift from the Dauphin. After Henry finishes circling the ambassador, Henry throws the ambassador the tennis ball he had picked up off the floor and been holding as if to silently say, “make your move, England will war with you for this mockery, and the ball is now in your court.” This one gesture alone allowed Henry to threaten so much more than his lips uttered aloud.
  • The film adaptation, unlike the play, portrays male dominance through omitting Queen Isabel’s character in Act 5, Scene 2 and changing some of Henry’s lines in the same Act and Scene; in this way the play is freed from the original dialogue. In the film, King Charles speaks Queen Isabel’s line in lines 12-20 and line 98; and Burgundy speaks Queen Isabel’s lines in lines 354-363. This demonstrates male power over women because in the play, when Isabel speaks she is the one to greet King Henry, she is the one to decide that Catherine may stay to speak with Henry, and she is the one who ultimately dictates that Henry may wed Catherine; however, by omitting Queen Isabel’s character altogether – as the film does – and by having King Charles and Burgundy speak the Queen’s lines the men are seen to be the ones making the major decisions for their kingdoms and their households.
    • Unlike the written play, the film further demonstrates male dominance in this same Act and Scene by changing Henry’s speech in line 368. In the play Henry states, “Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me…” When he says, “And you to me,” Henry is acknowledging Kate’s consent and presence. But, in the film Henry’s dialogue is changed to, “Then shall I swear to Kate, and she to me.” The use of the word “she” instead of “you” is a subtle difference; nevertheless, it shifts Henry’s dialogue from the acknowledgement of his fiancé’s consent to the acknowledgement of her father’s permission. Henry is even looking to King Charles and Burgundy, not Kate, when he speaks this line in the film.

Shakespeare on the Web

William Shakespeare’s literature is available on the internet in one of two ways: you can either read his original works or adaptations of his plays/poetry (aka Shakespeare Fan-fiction).

Two sites that I particularly love to browse when looking to read stories written by everyday people and not major authors are Wattpad and Mibba; both are websites created to share literature with other people online. This literature is categorized for easy access to what you want to read, but ranges from sci-fi to humor to classics and everything else in-between. It is also completely free to create an account and post your own stories on these sites.


If your interested in reading the original classics then visit Wattpad and in the “Discover” bar at the top of the page simply type in “William Shakespeare.” This will direct you to posts of his plays. Or, follow the links below!

But, if you want to read modern Shakespeare than Mibba may be the site for you (though you can read Shakespeare fan-fiction on Wattpad as well). WARNING: Though I have read fan-fiction before I have not read the fan-fics I am including links for below; however, I did skim them to make sure they’re good. Also, some of them are not yet completed, but most authors are good about updating their stories regularly on Mibba.

Shakespeare Quotes in Social Media Posts

One way in which Shakespeare’s works are still so talked about today is via social media.

  • Facebook is a great social media site to search Shakespeare’s quotes! Simply login in and proceed to look-up William Shakespeare Quotes as you would a friend! Facebook is a highly useful site because not only can you obtain quotes easily, but you can also find further information (such as biographical information on Shakespeare’s life) with just a few clicks of a computer mouse.

Shakespeare Facebook PostShakespeare Facebook PostShakespeare Facebook Post

  • Pinterest, being a social media site that revolves around pictures solely, is a resourceful way to find quote-art. Below are a few pictures of Shakespeare’s quotes from Pinterest that I find particularly lovely/impactful:

This is a gorgeous edit, and I'd like to credit the maker! Anybody?

"I love but thee, with a love that shall not die till the sun grows cold, and the stars grow old." ~ William Shakespeare

Macbeth – Act 4, Scene 3 - Shakespeare Hey you guys, I met someone nice. I'm dealing with that part of you Ron that always said it was just another cruel joke God was playing. Maybe not. It was a good day guys.

Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce / Shakespeare Quote Art Print


One might ponder if social media may end up restricting people’s access to Shakespeare’s works. Will people post a photo of one of his quotes having never read any of his plays? Is that what society has come to? While it is true that the younger generation likes momentary media such as vines, do not be worried: the reading of Shakespeare is not going anywhere. He is the bestselling fiction author in any language of all-time, even topping J.K. Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, and Stephen King.

The Merchant of Venice (2004)

In this post I will write on the benefits a film adaptation of one of William Shakespeare’s plays has over a silent read-through of the play. In particular, I will focus on the 2004 film adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, which is based on a Shakespearean play by the same name.

Below are (a few of) the advantages an audience has when watching the film versus reading the play:

  1. The film can utilize lighting
    1. For example:
      1. The film is able to play with lighting to further set the tone of scenes – an element that a read-through of the play is unable to provide. This is best exemplified when Jessica hands Lancelot the letter she wrote for Lorenzo, wanting Lancelot to deliver it to him. When Jessica hands Lancelot the letter he holds it up to the light to inspect it, but Jessica quickly takes his hand and draws the letter back into darkness; this tells the audience without using dialogue that the letter is shrouded in secrecy. However, when Jessica leaves, Lancelot holds the letter back up to the light, probably indirectly insinuating that all secrets will come to light or be brought out into the open soon enough.For example:
      2. Another example in the film of lighting allowing for further meaning within a scene occurs when Bassanio is choosing a casket, hoping to win Portia. In this scene, Portia is standing by a window – a window alone may represent escapism/freedom – while Bassanio contemplates his choice. However, no matter the stricken look of anxiety darning Portia’s face while she waits to hear Bassanio’s choice, the light falling into the room from the window onto Portia’s face foreshadows and promises that Bassanio’s choice will not disappoint her. Among other meanings such as enlightenment and happiness, sunshine represents warmth and comfort and therefore speaks as loudly, if not louder, than any lines the characters can utter in the play or film.
  2. The film can utilize costuming
    1. For example:
      1. In the film, Antonio is usually darned in blues and cool colors throughout the story whereas Shylock is usually seen wearing crimson red. Blue is most commonly associated with harmony and faithfulness. Red is associated with blood, war and danger (http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html). These colors may allow the audience to draw a further contrast between Shakespeare’s interpretation of the Christian-Jew relationship that Antonio and Shylock represent and with it the Christian policy of mercy/forgiveness versus the Jewish mandate of Justice.
  3. The film can omit or expand scenes from the play
    1. For example:
      1. The film omits the banter between Lancelot and his father in Act 2, Scene 2 where the two characters are first introduced at Shylock’s house. This is a very significant change because it alters the view the audience has of Lancelot and Gobbo’s relationship; it also changes the dynamic in the later scene where Lancelot and Gobbo go to Bassanio when Lancelot is seeking to leave his former master Shylock. Whereas in the play Lancelot and Gobbo’s bantering portrays an almost Oedipus conflict where the son is taking authority over his elderly father, the film’s lack of banter demonstrates the exact opposite, that the elderly hold more authority over the younger generation in Venice. And, the elderly having possession of the young makes the young a commodity.

For more information on film adaptations visit the links below:

  1. What is film adaptation?: http://www2.fiu.edu/~weitzb/WHAT-IS-FILM-ADAPTATION.htm
  2. Different types of film adaptations: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~rbeach/teachingmedia/module12/2a.htm

For a preview of The Merchant of Venice check out the official trailer!