Free Essay On The Function Of The Chorus In Henry V By William Shakespeare
The play Henry V finishes the tetralogy of William Shakespeare’s historical playwrights. This play depicts the story of the King of England Henry V, the son of Henry IV. In the beginning, Henry V is about to sign a new bill, which allow the government to use a part of church money to feed the poor and to maintain the army. Besides, the King wants to invade France and get the French throne. The Archbishop of Canterbury supports the King’s desire and hope that this action would distract the King from the bill. Henry V arrives to France and launches the war because his arguments regarding the legitimate right for the throne are not taken into consideration. His tactic and persuasion skills are impressive. He manages to win the final battle of Agincourt despite its result was very unsure. The King’s famous St. Crispin Day speech unites soldiers and helps them to believe in propriety of their actions. Henry V marries the Catherine of Valois, which means the union of England and France.
In the course of the play, chorus gets an important role. No scenery was available the times of Shakespeare. To get the true pleasure from the play, audience needed to participate actively and to use imagination. “Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them” (Act 1; 27). Every time Chorus appears on the stage, it is apologizes for the absence of scenery and describes what should audience actually see when act begins. Besides, it explains what had already happened and what is going to happen next. For example, Act 2 ends with the phrase “The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed; The king is set from London; and the scene Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton” (Act 2, 25).
The function of chorus is meant to be neutral because it should only inform about the actions on the stage. In Henry V, on the contrary, the chorus is completely supporting the policy of Henry V. Here, the aim of chorus is to demonstrate the King as the ideal ruler and the one of the best tactics in the history on England. People are eager to follow Henry V. “They sell the pasture now to buy the horse, Following the mirror of all Christian kings” (Act 2, 5-6). The speeches of chorus are different in the notion of language. When it refers to the King, the tone is solemn and triumphant. Sometimes, it is humorous, when describing the actions or the scenery that should be behind. “Can this cock-pit hold the vastly fields of France? (Act1;13)”, asks the chorus at the beginning. Of course, the audience would see no French warriors and no battlefield. Yet, the scenery should be imagined. Therefore, the Chorus just tries to make people see what is actually absent in reality. The Chorus is extremely essential for this play. With the help of this character Shakespeare adds drama to the play. For example, the epilogue reveals the future events, which are not included in the play. The son of Henry V will not be as prominent as his father, “they lost France and made his England bleed” (Epilogue, 11). Despite the play ends with triumph of the King, the Chorus adds a sad note to the play. Besides, it helps to interpret and explain the action on the stage. It makes the audience feel more involved into the play.
Shakespeare, William. The life of king Henry the fifth. Champaign, Ill: Project Gutenberg, 1990. Web. 29 Mar. 2015