Functions Of The Chorus In Shakespeare's Henry V

4374 words - 17 pages

Functions of the Chorus in Shakespeare's Henry V

In Shakespeare's Henry V, the chorus plays a prominent role. There are
few other plays written by Shakespeare that include a chorus, however
in no other play does the chorus have such an important role.

The principal purpose of the chorus is that of story telling. The
chorus acts as a guide for the audience, narrating parts that wouldn't
fit into the action of the play. For example in the Act II Chorus, we
are told about treason:

'The sum is paid, the traitors are agreed, the king is now set from
London, and the scene is now transported, gentles, to Southampton.'

As we can see, the chorus reviews what has happened in previous scenes
and also tell us where we are going next.

Kenneth Branagh made a film version of Shakespeare's Henry V in 1989.
He made several alterations to the script and especially to parts of
the chorus. I think he chose to do this for two main reasons. Firstly,
to sustain levels of dramatic tension and interest, as modern
audiences have a far lower attention span. Branagh was also able to
make cuts because he had created the play through a modern medium, not
all the explanation of the action was necessary, as it could be shown.
This is effective for Branagh, as stage technology has developed since
Shakespeare's time. Shakespeare would need to explain several scenes
in the play in close detail, as they are near impossible to appear as
realistic as Branagh is able to make them seem.

Another function of the chorus is to arouse expectation. The chorus is
used to influence the way the audience react to people and events.
This is especially true in the way that Henry is presented as an epic

'O for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of

This is an example of the traditional beginning of an epic poem, and
is the first line of the play. Appealing to a muse, a goddess patron
of the arts, tells us that is going to be a really special play. The
audience react to this, getting excited as they find they are going to
watch such a wonderful play. The prologue raises our expectation of
Henry, as we know previously he had been a bit of a rebel. It now
calls him the 'Warlike Harry'; it says he is like Mars, the god of
war. Throughout the play, the audience are reminded how great Henry
is. In Act V's chorus, Henry is compared to 'Caesar', a great roman
emperor and by the epilogue Henry is 'The star of England'. However,
Henry also has a less attractive side, which is occasionally portrayed
in the scenes between the choruses. This may seem inconsistent. Henry
can be cunning and manipulative. When he wishes to fight the French,
he says to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he wants his blessing,
because then God will be on his side. If Canterbury agrees, then

Find Another Essay On Functions of the Chorus in Shakespeare's Henry V

William Shakespeare's Henry V Essay

2475 words - 10 pages William Shakespeare's Henry V William Shakespeare is one of the most famous and influential writers of all time. His plays not only portray the past, but also aspects of love and hate, humour and tragedy. Henry V, written by Shakespeare, using Raphael Holinshed's historical chronicles, appealed to many of the citizens of that time, as it presented an insight into their country's past, as well as 'feel-good

Drama vs. History in Shakespeare's Henry V

3888 words - 16 pages Drama vs. History in Shakespeare's Henry V       It is not necessary to have authored seven historical dramas, as Shakespeare had when he set to work on Henry V, to conclude that history is frequently not very dramatic. Chronicles of the past have the subjectivity and subtly of national anthems - they are about appropriating the truth, not approaching it. Noble causes and giant killing abound in these documents, often at the cost of

William Shakespeare's Henry V

2128 words - 9 pages William Shakespeare's Henry V Shakespeare's, Henry V, was written in the late sixteenth century, this composition will focus upon how Shakespeare portrayed Henry V, using factual knowledge and Shakespeare's own interpretation. I will look at the character, language, structure and history of the play. Most Shakespearian, historical, plays were based upon Holinshead's Chronicles, these were mostly true but often

Leadership in William Shakespeare's Henry V

3859 words - 15 pages Leadership in William Shakespeare's Henry V At the time when "Henry V" was written in 1599, Englandwas in chaos, facing many dilemmas. The country was coming to the end of the Elizabethan era. Queen Elizabeth was in the final years of her reign and she was getting old, which must be taken into consideration. Therefore, the issue of succession was very topical. Who was to become the next monarch of England? This issue

Use of Language and Imagery in act One Scene Two of Shakespeare's Henry V

831 words - 3 pages Use of Language and Imagery in act One Scene Two of Shakespeare's Henry V The French ambassadors are shown into Henry's court. They were sent from the Dauphin, son of the French King. The Dauphin's message is an insulting rejection of Henry's claim to the French dukedoms and refers to his reputation as a trivial pleasure-seeker. The message is accompanied by a mocking gift of tennis balls, suggesting that he should go

Dying for One's Country in Asquith's The Volunteer and the Extract From Shakespeare's Henry V

2098 words - 8 pages Dying for One's Country in Asquith's The Volunteer and the Extract From Shakespeare's Henry V How effectively do Asquith's Poem, 'The Volunteer,' and the Extract From Shakespeare's 'Henry V' Promote the Idea That it is Heroic to fight and Die For One's Country? What Alternative View, is Offered by Wilfred Owen in 'Dulce et Decorum Est?' The Volunteer is a Pro-War poem written by Herbert Asquith. Asquith uses roman

Theme of Social Hierarchy in William Shakespeare's Henry V, Twelfth Night and Macbeth

1678 words - 7 pages Theme of Social Hierarchy in William Shakespeare's Henry V, Twelfth Night and Macbeth Henry V, Twelfth Night, and Macbeth cover the whole field of Shakespearean genres, but it is amazing how Shakespeare displays a theme and carries it through in any kind of play he wants to. Historic, comic, and tragic plays are about as different as you can get, yet when we take a closer look we see many similarities among them, especially in the area of

A Modern Version of Shakespeare's Play, Henry V

1531 words - 6 pages A Modern Version of Shakespeare's Play, Henry V The play Henry V, currently being staged at the University of Alberta student theatre, exemplifies an innovative manner of bringing the historic play into the modern era of technology. Set in the form of two multinational corporations: England and France, the play details the metaphoric battle for the market share from the two companies. Set in the current era circa 2002, the props and set

Father and Son Relationship in William Shakespeare's Henry IV and V

1831 words - 7 pages Father and Son Relationship in William Shakespeare's Henry IV and V      Shakespeare deals with a parent-child relationship in the historical plays of Henry IV Parts One and Two in the characters of Henry Bullingsworth (Henry IV) and his son Hal (Prince of Wales, later Henry V). The fact stands clear in the development of the son, Hal: the son’s success in life is not dependent on his relationship to his father politically, but success is

The functions of the chorus in

1169 words - 5 pages In many Greek tragedies, the Chorus serves an important role. It is used for many things, such as clarifying the feelings of the characters and to establish and point out the significance of facts in the story. In Oedipus the King, the Chorus serves these functions, as well as to give the reader insight into the beliefs of the ancient Greeks. The functions of the Chorus are not just for dramatic purposes. The Chorus was first used in

Henry in Henry V

830 words - 3 pages Henry in Henry V The bishops refer to Henry in the first scene as "a sudden scholar" who can "reason in divinity." Canterbury says, "The king is full of grace, and fair regard. Ely quotes "and a true lover of the holy church. The two bishops, pretty much have the same view on Henry, they think highly of him. Henry's past is described by Ely and Canterbury, the two bishops. Canterbury quotes

Similar Essays

Shakespeare's Presentation Of Henry V Essay

2829 words - 11 pages Shakespeare's Presentation of Henry V During the course of the play we are shown many different sides of Henry, the most prominent in my opinion being that he is a great leader but ruthless. Our views of Henry are formed not only by his actions and what he says, but also by other characters’ opinions of him and how the audience would value these opinions according to how Shakespeare has presented them. Henry is

Hero In Shakespeare's 'henry V' And Siegfried Sassoons 'the Hero'

1954 words - 8 pages ’. Sassoon joined the army himself motivated by patriotism, but after his first-hand experiences he expressed his views on the ‘gritty realism’ of war through his writing. One of his most applauded pieces of work is his poem ‘the hero’ in which he touches upon a very home-hitting matter; the job of a brother officer. Perhaps Shakespeare’s Henry v character’s most remarkable and heroic quality is his resolve; once Henry has his mind set on

Shakespeare's Portrayal Of Henry V As The Model Monarch

4832 words - 19 pages Shakespeare's Portrayal of Henry V as the Model Monarch In this essay I intend to show that Shakespeare portrays Henry as the Classic Sovereign as he is patriotic, brave, cunning, religious, natural leader & in touch with the lower class of the country. I will use quotes and remarks in the play to show this and present it. I shall firstly do a summery of the play and give a basic image of what it contains, and then

How Shakespeare Portrays The Character Of The King In William Shakespeare's Henry V

2220 words - 9 pages How Shakespeare Portrays the Character of the King in William Shakespeare's Henry V By writing this play, Shakespeare was hoping to inspire the people of England because at that time there was a possible threat of war from Spain or Ireland. He was trying to create the feeling of patriotism so writing about Henry was a good idea because he was the epitome of a brave, courageous king. He was able to inspire his men to