Henry V Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
Either our history shall with full mouth
Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave,
Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,
Not worshipped with a waxen epitaph. (1.2.238-241)
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?
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 seas
To 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.Prologue.36-42)
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.
Thus with imagined wing our swift scene flies
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought. Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king at Dover pier
Embark his royalty, and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning
Play with your fancies and in them behold,
Upon the hempen tackle, shipboys climbing.
Hear the shrill whistle, which doth order give
To sounds confused. Behold the threaden sails,
Borne with th’ invisible and creeping wind,
Draw the huge bottoms through the furrowed sea,
Breasting the lofty surge. O, do but think
You stand upon the rivage and behold
A city on th’ 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, as dead midnight still,
Guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women,
Either past or not arrived to pith and puissance,
For who is he whose chin is but enriched
With one appearing hair that will not follow
These culled and choice-drawn cavaliers to France?
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege;
Behold the ordnance on their carriages,
With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur.
Suppose th’ Ambassador from the French comes back,
Tells Harry that the King doth offer him
Katherine his daughter and with her, to dowry,
Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms.
The offer likes not, and the nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,
Alarum, and chambers go off.
And down goes all before them. Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind. (3.Prologue.1-37)
The Chorus really gets into this whole humble tour guide gig, don't you think?