What is a Chorus? In music it is a group of performers, music for a group of singers and the part of song repeated after a verse. In a play the chorus may be traced back to the dramas of ancient Greece where a group of actors danced, sang and delivered lines. At first the chorus sang lyric hymns to honor Dionysus, the god of ecstasy and wine. These lyric hymns are known as dithyramb. During the 6th century B.C. Thespis, a poet also known as "the inventor of tragedy," was said to be instrumental for the birth of the dramatic chorus. During the Renaissance the role and meaning of a chorus changed, from a group it became a single performer who delivered the prologue and epilogue. “Henry V” is believed to have been written around 1599, during renaissance by William Shakespeare. 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. It is merely a tool to avoid the audience getting too confused. The function for the chorus is merely a practical one, by summarizing the plot at every available opportunity; there is little chance for confusion, even if the audiences do have to use their imagination.
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 excited preparations for the war. Flames glorify war; the Chorus leaves no room for negative connotations of war, just glorified symbolism. At the start of Act 4, the Chorus depicts the growing tension on the battlefield as "fire faces fire". Both sides are full of courage, patriotism and rage.
In Act 1 the chorus first excites everyone but also upsets the audience by letting them know that the play wont be as grand as the real happening since the stage is too small to contain everyone. For Example: “Can this cock-pit hold the vastly fields of France? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques That did affright the air at Agincourt? (Prologue)”
This is explains that Shakespeare cannot cram thousands of actors as soldiers on the stage and hence provokes the audience to imagine these landscapes by saying “Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them, Printing their proud hoofs i'the' receiving earth.(Prologue)”. Too a large extent the success of the play depends on the audiences will to participate.
In Act 2 the prologue informs the audience of the incidents that take place after Act 1 and it provides a good background for Act 2. The Prologue informs the audience of the length of time, which has passed since Henry’s decision to invade France, and the present, actual time. All of the preparations for war have been made, and enough time has elapsed for the French to learn of the plans for war and, as a counter measure, to enter into a conspiracy to have Henry assassinated.
The Chorus also reminds the audience that they must continue to use their imaginations, as the scene will soon shift from London to Southampton and then to France.
The chorus in Act 3 describes the English army’s embarkation and channel crossing, and the siege of Harfleur. Shakespeare uses strong descriptive language to describe the English ship on their way to the battle. The implications of exhibiting courage are highlighted by the use of ‘brave’. It represents how the English army will fear no one and are prepared to do whatever it takes to satisfy their desires. Shakespeare describes the English surge with the use of the sibilance ‘silken streamers’, which gives the…