Friday, October 25, 2019
The Function of the Chorus in Henry V Essay -- Papers Shakespeare Essa
The Function of the Chorus in Henry V "O for a muse of fire," The Chorus introduces the start of Henry V with imagery of flames and war. Shakespeare uses the Chorus to initiate the play and summarise each act to the audience before the next one begins. He is merely a tool to avoid the audience getting too confused. The function for the chorus is merely a practical one, by summarising the plot at every available opportunity; there is little chance for confusion, even if the audience do have to use their imagination. But, we must ask ourselves, if this was Shakespeare's only reason for including the Chorus, why does he not use a similar device in his other plays? Surely in all of his plays the audience have to imagine the setting (the stage of the globe was set in the round, and so had no room for large props and scenery), and many of his plays have more complex plots than this one, so why do we need the Chorus? The answer is the Chorus puts across a very clear view of warfare and Henry's kingship. It is a very romantic, idealised view, which uses over-zealous language, such as "two mighty monarchies" to create a strong glorified impact on the audience. They are building up the audience's expectations of this to be a mighty, glorious play. The use of the imagery of flames and fire repeats itself throughout the Chorus's scenes. "O for a muse of fire" is the very first line, which immediately conjures up a grand image. Flames represent war, but are also a typical representation of courage and bravery. When the Chorus says, "the youth of England are on fire," it imposes upon the audience the idea of keen anticipation and excit... ...nch of salt and are not really to be trusted. Certain productions of Henry V do glorify war, for example Laurence Olivier's production in the 1940's painted a beautiful, majestic picture of war, However after analysing the role of the Chorus in the play, I do not believe this play is a glorification of warfare. Henry's leadership is romanticised in the play considerably more than the idea of warfare. Productions such as Kenneth Brannagh's creation paint a far more realistic view of war, as a bloody, filthy affair. This is more what I feel the subtext of the play is. War is not really idealised in this play, it can be taken as being glorified, but because of Shakespeare's use of the structure of the play, and the Chorus's propaganda fabrications, the character of the Chorus does not in any way add to this glorification.