Henry V


William Shakespeare

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Henry V makes teaching easy.

Henry V: Act 4, Prologue Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
The Chorus’ describes, in detail, both armies poised to fight the next morning. It is 3 a.m. The French are “confident and over-lusty” while the English “inly ruminate the morning’s danger,” their “lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats” making them look like “ghosts.” Still, Henry V walks among his ravaged troops “with cheerful semblance and sweet majesty,” dispensing “a largess universal like the sun” so that “every wretch…plucks comfort from his looks.” The play will now turn to the battle, whose rendition on stage, the Chorus laments, will “disgrace…the name of Agincourt.” He asks the audience to think of the “true things” “their mock’ries” imitate.
The Chorus’ description presents another facet of Henry’s role as king. Even at the darkest hour (of the night, of the English spirit), Henry radiates bright optimism so that his subjects’ may derive comfort from his sunny disposition. Again, the Chorus criticizes theater’s false appearances, contrasting them with the “true things” of lived history.
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