Henry V Act II, Prologue Summary and Analysis

William Shakespeare

Act II, Prologue Summary and Analysis

Summary
Chorus announces that England is completing preparations for war. Word of this has reached Paris and has caused alarm, and three of Henry’s trusted former advisors—the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop, and Sir Thomas Grey—have been bribed to spy on him. The first scene, says Chorus, is set in London, but he says the ensuing scenes will take them to Southampton, where the assembled army is about to depart, and then to France.

Analysis
As before, Chorus’ prologue is used to verbally create effects that could not be staged, such as the passage of months during which the army made ready for battle and the geographical shift from London to Southampton to Paris. The speech also condenses an important piece of background information—the espionage of Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey. This allows Shakespeare to dispense with this subplot quickly and to focus attention on Henry’s reaction, which reveals much about his character.