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In Henry V Shakespeare has used language to communicate the setting and the mood. I will also be contrasting between the scenes and characters. I will be doing this by looking at Act 3, Act 4 and using Act 2 Scene 1 and Act 1 Scene 2 to compare scenes and characters. Shakespeare used language in Henry V to communicate the setting. In ‘Act 3,’ the chorus tells the reader that the English army are sailing to France.
The main role of the chorus was to explain things to the audience that could not be acted out on stage, to tell the audience that time has passed and to summarise parts of the play. The chorus also tells the reader or audience that once they reach France they begin to besiege the town of Harfleur. The reason why the chorus tells the reader or audience this is because this scene cannot be acted out on stage but Shakespeare uses language to get the audience to picture the ships crossing and the siege.
In Shakespearian time it was necessary to have a chorus in this play because the chorus gets the audience to picture the ships crossing and the siege by telling the audience to use their imaginations. This is due to the fact that this scene cannot be acted out on stage and limited resources because in Shakespearian times there weren’t any effects they just had a stage and a few props. ‘Thus with imagin’d wing our swift scene flies,’ this sentence is telling the reader to use his or her imagination to imagine the setting and locality of this act.
The chorus appeals to two senses. These two senses help the reader to build a picture in our imaginations of what it was like to be at the siege. The two senses are the sense of sight and the sense of hearing. An example of the sense of sight is, ‘hempen tackle ship-boys climbing,’ this creates an image in our heads of boys climbing. An example of the sense of hearing is, ‘hear the shrill whistle,’ this creates a sound in our heads of a sharp, high-pitched whistle. Shakespeare cleverly uses both senses in the same phrase.
This is a more effective way of using language to communicate the setting because it creates a picture in our heads as well as creates sounds to the picture, ‘To sounds confus’d,’ this tells the reader that there are confusing sounds and where there are confusing sounds there are people which gives the emphasis that there are a lot of things going on and that there is a lot of mayhem. This gives the reader the picture in our heads that there are people running around.
Another example is, ‘Behold the threaden sails Borne with the invisible and creeping wind’; in this phrase you can hear the creeping wind against the sails and you can visualize the sails moving. The effect of these senses is to help our imaginations paint a picture and it also helps the reader to understand what it was like to be in certain people’s shoes at the time of the crossing and the siege. If the reader were a ‘hempen tackle ship-boy’ then he or she would be ‘climbing,’ and if the reader was on the ship he or she will be hearing confused sounds.
Now I am going to explain how language in Henry V is used to communicate the mood. In ‘Act 4’ the chorus describes to the reader the scene of the English camp the night before the battle of Agincourt. Shakespeare uses language to get the audience to feel the mood of the battlefield. Sound, words that emphasise ugliness, supernatural images and words that tell the reader that time is passing slowly are all ways to get the audience to feel the mood of the battlefield.
‘Creeping murmur,’ ‘hum of either army stilly sounds’ and ‘secret whispers,’ tells the reader about the sound of the camp and makes the reader feel slightly threatened and uneasy because it gives the feeling of impending danger. ‘Cripple tardy-gaited,’ ‘foul and ugly witch’ and ‘horrid ghosts,’ are words that emphasise ugliness. Those words make the reader not want to go there and they tell him or her that the place is disgusting, revolting and that it is an unpleasant place to be. ‘Ghosts’ and ‘witches’ are supernatural images.
These images may make the reader feel scared and make him or her feel the same as the people in the camp. There are words and phrases that tell the reader time is passing slowly. These words and phrases are, ‘creeping,’ ‘cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,’ ‘ third hour of drowsy morning name,’ and ‘piercing. ‘ The effect that these words have on this scene is that it seems that this scene is time dragging. The reason why I say this is because the armies want the battle to be over but they also don’t want the battle to come.
It is a bit like exams, because everyone doesn’t want the exam to come but when the exam comes they want to finish the exam and get it over and done with. Words which tells the reader about the sounds about the camp, words which emphasise ugliness, supernatural images and words they tell the reader time is passing slowly creates a weird and spooky mood in this scene. It is important that this kind of mood is created so that the reader can feel what it is like to be in the camp.