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How Helpful To The Audience Is The Chorus in Shakespeare's 'Henry V'

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Coursework By Thomas Stevenson Henry V written by William Shakespeare in 1596-1599 is a play about heroism, conquerors, and the power the monarch of England possesses. King Henry V was king of England from 1413 till 1422; Henry was, and possibly is still, seen as one of the greatest kings in history. Shakespeare's play does not just entertain the Elizabethans; he uses Henry V to replace any doubt about the reigning monarch with complete trust. In this play, like his others, Shakespeare uses a number of devices and fluent language to perform the play with depth and insight into the life of war and it's leaders. One device Shakespeare uses is the Chorus with its intentions to help the audience and add dramatic effects to the play. Shakespeare uses the Chorus in Henry V as a key role that leads the play forward. The Chorus appears between the Acts and at the start and end of the play. It is played by the only actor who speaks directly to the audience and breaks the so-called "Fourth Wall: " "Can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France? ...read more.


Although the audience would be expecting a scene with Henry V at the docks in Southampton, they get a lighter scene with three low-life characters and a prostitute. The Chorus also sets the scene in Act 4, in Agincourt, "...do the low-rated English play at dice..." the Chorus injects its own opinion into the phrase, explaining the wounded English are not playing the odds and are risking a great deal. If the Chorus did not set the scene, the audience's imagination would not be able to follow the play due to the reasons explained before; and to set the mood makes it easier for the audience to transition into the next scene. The previous quotation also educates the audience about the circumstances in the play in explaining the French have every the chance to bring the English down. The Chorus does this in every appearance, the Prologue explains about "...the warlike Harry..." and how he is raring to attack the French. In Act 2 it explains about the French and how they are "...advised by good intelligence..." yet have the "...most dreadful preparation..." trying "...to divert the English purposes..." ...read more.


Therefore, King Henry V also needed one; however Act 5, Scene 2 ends with Henry marrying Katherine of France. Yes, it is a conclusion to the fighting but not a conclusion to the play. That is why Shakespeare created an epilogue for the Chorus to finish the play. The Chorus explains of the play writer's hard work and uses a slightly less descriptive language to end the story "... in your fair minds." Shakespeare uses the Chorus to sum up the play as a type of explanation of the history or future of the play. In my opinion the best way to finish a long play, and is also very useful to the audience to have such an ending. Speaking some of Shakespeare's superbly written soliloquies, elegant language, and bright metaphors the Chorus, most certainly plays the vital role of Henry V. Shakespeare wrote sonnets and plays starting first in 1589 and finally finishing 1611. He created the Chorus for many reasons but in the end it was placed in between the Acts of King Henry V to help the audience with working out the complications that the Tudors could not show on the stage unlike our modern day plays. Without the Chorus in this play on its first production, it would have been a disaster to watch and understand. Tom Stevenson 5 ...read more.

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