ENGL 102 Final Exam Essay

Both Queen Elizabeth’s speech to the troops at Tilbury and Shakespeare’s imagined speech of Henry V before the Battle at Agincourt call on troops to risk their lives in desperate situations. The two speeches are associated with great victories for England and are commonly considered great examples of leading through oratory. 

Your job for this assignment is to write a 750-word (approximately 2-page) essay answering the following question: 

What are the chief elements of these two speeches that make them so motivational, and what makes those elements so effective? 

  • In answering this question you might find it useful to consider some of the following:
    How does each monarch address the practical worries a soldier might have?
    Literature about combat frequently presents two fundamental incentives for soldiers—one negative, the other positive.  Soldiers have commonly been seen as dreading the shame of cowardice and longing for the glory of heroism.  Each monarch obviously pushes the lure of glory, but what about the fear of shame?  Is it there?  What other intangible incentives or threats do the monarchs offer their hearers? 
    Both these speakers were monarchs who believed, as did their subjects, that they were chosen by God to be in a position of authority. Note, for example, Elizabeth’s concluding line with its repetition of “my.”  Does this belief in their special relationship with God influence what they are saying? Does this belief and its influence on the speech make these examples useful to a modern democratic audience? Why or why not?
    How do you think the sex of the leader influences his or her interaction with the troops?

In presenting your discussion, be sure to begin with an introduction that clearly articulates your thesis and provides a clear sense of direction for the paper.  In your body paragraphs, be sure to quote from the two speeches.  A good rule of thumb is to have at least one significant quotation per body paragraph.

You will bring this finished essay to your scheduled final exam.  You are allowed to make editing and proofreading changes to it during that time, but the final version must be computer-printed.