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Henry V

Henry V

 Table of Contents

Henry V Art and Culture Quotes

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Quote #1

Either our history shall with full mouthSpeak freely of our acts, or else our grave,Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,Not worshipp'd with a waxen epitaph. (1.2.8)

Like we've said before, Henry V is very self-conscious play. Here, Shakespeare acknowledges that he's portraying his version of history, which audiences may or may not embrace. When the Chorus talks about its anxiety about the play's success, it reminds us of Henry's anxiety about his military campaign. What's up with that?

Quote #2

There is the playhouse now, there must you sit:And thence to France shall we convey you safe,And bring you back, charming the narrow seasTo give you gentle pass; for, if we may,We'll not offend one stomach with our play.But, till the king come forth, and not till then,Unto Southampton do we shift our scene. (2.0)

A major component of the Chorus's role is to set the scene before each act of the play, kind of like a tour guide who will take us across the English Channel to watch Henry's Battle of Agincourt. (First, though, we have to make a pit stop in Southampton.) The effect of this is to make us feel as though we are somehow participating in Henry's journey.

Quote #3

Thus with imagined wing our swift scene fliesIn motion of no less celerityThan that of thought. Suppose that you have seenThe well-appointed king at Hampton pierEmbark his royalty; and his brave fleetWith silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning:Play with your fancies, and in them beholdUpon the hempen tackle ship-boys climbing;Hear the shrill whistle which doth order giveTo sounds confused; behold the threaden sails,Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea,Breasting the lofty surge: O, do but thinkYou stand upon the ravage and beholdA city on the inconstant billows dancing;For so appears this fleet majestical,Holding due course to Harfleur. Follow, follow:Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy,And leave your England,[...] Still be kind,And eke out our performance with your mind. (3.0)

The Chorus really gets into this whole humble tour guide gig, don't you think?

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