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

Authors Avatar

Tom Stevenson



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? … On your imaginary forces work.” This is in the prologue, where the Chorus speaks about the suspension of disbelief and how the audience will have to use their imagination to cope with the settings and actions of the play. Due to the lack of scenery and lighting available, it was almost always a barren stage, apart from the actors. The prologue, fluid with language and a rhyming couplet, apologizes and asks, for “your humble patience pray, gently to hear, kindly to judge our play” as it is thought that this play was not based inside the Globe Theatre but the Curtain Theatre as it is spoken about on line 13 of the prologue, “Within this wooden O.” Although not particularly helpful, Shakespeare apologizes specifically to them, expressing his views without speaking directly to the audience, hoping they will still enjoy his masterpiece. This is useful for only Shakespeare/ play-write but still helps the audience to understand.

Join now!

        Another way the Chorus helps the audience is that it helps to create the setting and mood of upcoming scenes. “Now all the youth of England are on fire…” gives the Act 2 Chorus an aggressive tone to start. This helps the audience because in the Elizabethan time they had no set to help the imagination to understand where they were.  The Choruses of Acts 2 and 3 use the adjectives: “dreadful, fault, hollow, treacherous, devilish” and many more to set this mood. Act 2 uses adjectives to do with disappointment and wrong doings because of the up coming scene ...

This is a preview of the whole essay