Henry V Acts 3 and 4

Acts 3 and 4 seem to show how just war theory is applied in times of war and even on the battlefield of war.  We see this through many differnet examples, those being the punishment of Bardolph, the threats made at Harfleur, the execution of the prisoners of war, and the killings of the luggage boys.  At the battle of Harfleur, Henry makes his intentions known when threatening to kill, rape, and pillage the people of Harfleur if they did not surrender.  Such actions should be considered unjust especially given the fact that those he would be doing these actions to would not necessarily have been a part of the defense or even able to defend themselves at all, e.g. small children.  Harfleur surrenders and Bardolph goes about stealing from the city.  He is punished for his crimes and that brings up an interesting problem.  If Henry was willing to go as far as decimating Harfleur when did it become a capital offense to steal from Harfleur?  One could argue that by surrendering Harfleur in a way became part of Henry’s England, but another could argue that crimes during war can only be committed by the soldiers fighting the war, and not those running it.  That is what it would seem Henry is thinking given what happens in act 4.  During the battle of Agincourt Henry begins having the prisoners of war killed when it looks as if the French are going to break through, but stops when the French are obviously not doing so.  It would seem in response to such an action the French attack and kill the luggage boys of the English army.  It is interesting to note that Henry’s morally upright captian, Fluellen, makes no distinction between the two actions and sees only injustice in the French.  This would tend to show that perhaps the crimes and sins of a king are all in the betterment of the kingdom.  As was stated during our discussion of acts 1 and 2, a king must be willing to go to Hell to ensure his subjects a path to Heaven.  One last thing to note, during some research I found that a mock trail of Henry V was held in Washington, D.C. in March of 2010 for the crimes associated with the legality of the invasion and the execution of the prisoners.  Justices Samuel Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg we two of the participating judges in the trial.  When it came to a justification for war the court was couldn’t come to a verdict, but they did unanimously find him guilty for the prisoner executions when applying “the evolving standards of the maturing society.”  There where previous mock tribunals but none ever found guilt on the part of Henry.


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The story of Antigone is deep in meaning and comparisions that can be drawn into today’s world. Creon is a prime example of the state, law, and monarchy. Creon throughout the story is unmoved by arguments against him and believes his choices and will to always be correct. The law is an unfeeling, unmoving entity that is blind to the circumstances around it. In the strictest of terms, if you break the law it is unlawful, regardless of the reason. This is how Creon seems to act throughout this story.

Antigone comes across as an example of extreme reverence and to a certain extent, theocracy. Antigone goes against Creon and his law because she claims that the laws of the gods are higher than the laws of Creon. It can be seen that the two have a sever clash of intrests and what they deem as right and wrong. It bears to one to question whether the laws that man make for themselves or the ones imposed on by higher forces hold more bearing and are more just. We see this clash happen throughout the story and even see glimpses of feminism (the whisperings of the people) and democracy (Haemon). These glimpses of these two views offer an insight of how these forms of thought clash against the extreme views of state vs. theocracy.

Ultimately, we see the result of the failure for either view to yield any ground to the other. Antigone dies, Haemon dies, Creon’s wife dies. There is nothing but tragedy and grief at the end. It is interesting to note that Haemon dies clinging to Antigone. Using our analysis of both characters and what they represent, it could be said that without a certain amount of reverence democracy will die. That is to say that there is a certain amount of religious inspired law and thought that the state should uptake to maintain a strong democracy.

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Oedipus Rex

The story of Oedipus begins with a gathering pleading with Oedipus, who is the king of Thebes, to save them from a curse that has befallen the city in the form of several plagues.  Oedipus discovers that the only way to lift the curse is to punish the murder of the old king.  At this point Oedipus begins to uncover clues to who killed the king while allowing the reader to discover Oedipus’ past. 

Oedipus left Corinth, where he was prince, when he discovered a prophecy that claimed he would kill his father and lay with his mother.  It was this prophecy that drove him away from Corinth, and in his travels he happened upon a group of travelers who insulted him and assualted him.  As a result Oedipus killed the group and continued on his journey.  He then arrived in Thebes which was beset by a Sphinx which Oedipus quickly defeated.  Thebes was without a king, whom had gone missing, and so Oedipus marries the queen and assumes the role of king.

Through questioning of a prophet and two old shepards Oedipus discovers that he is not actually the child of the king of Corinth, but rather the child of the king of Thebes.  He slowly begins to realize that he is the reason for the curse and that the prophecy had come true that he was desperatly trying to avoid.  He blinds himself and asks to be exiled for the curse that he has brought on himself and Thebes.

Throughout the story those who know the truth constantly try to talk Oedipus out of seeking the truth of the crime that had been committed.  It is this theme that shows an issue of the people questioning the state.  It is rather interesting to note that in this story the people knew best and the state (Oedipus) was acting foolishly when it thought it was acting in a correct manner.  We still seem to struggle with these issues of who actually knows best, the state or the people?  For all the advances the human race has made, it seems that this problem still seems to plague us…almost as if it is a form of a sphinx.

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Thursdays assignment to read Crito offers a look into the issue of law and how it sides with the people or the people side with the law. One may read Crito and only see the argument presented in the form of the life and death versus justice and injustice. I see a far more complex argument here. While Socrates and Crito believe that the conviction and subsequent sentence of death are injust the question is not whether or not that injustice makes it just for Socrates to escape into exile, rather it is whether or not injustice can become just through just law.

The Athenian Democracy would certainly allow people to use the law for their own gains, be it just or not. This makes for an interesting problem, Socrates believes the law to always be just, but if used for unjust gains what is to be done? This is the issue Socrates faces with escape or accepting death. Socrates does decide to accept death as to escape would be against the law and unjust. Do two unjust acts make a just act? Socrates would say no.

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