The Use of Mythological References in Fulfilling the Epic Design of King Henry in Henry V

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The mythological references in Henry V enhance the epic design of the protagonist, King Henry. In Henry V, the eighteen explicit mythological references contribute to one of the characteristics of the epic formula, which “the hero is a figure of imposing stature, of national or international importance, and of great historical or legendary significance.” (Harmon 176) Through the use of classical mythology, King Henry is indirectly shaped as an effective and inspiring leader. In fact, King Henry is the only successful king in Shakespeare’s history plays, his heroic figure as a king is reflected by the mythological references he made in his soliloquies. Moreover, other characters such as the Duke of Exeter and Captain Fluellen also praise the success of kingship through the construction of mythological references. These classical mythologies are a rich source of inspiration for both author and audience, as each allusion contains its own historical background that helps build up the structure of the story. Therefore, the mythological references provide a more comprehensive depiction for the entire storyline and more importantly, for King Henry’s status as a successful king. The first mythological reference is first illustrated in the prologue, which it helps set out a general tone for the storyline and foreshadow the focus on the events. The Chorus, who functions as a narrator in the play, made an epic invocation by stating, “Muse of fire” (1.Prologue.1) in the prologue. He appeals urgently to his audiences to use their imagination to establish the best story possible despite the visual limitations of the stage. “Muse” is a Greek mythology that refers to the goddesses of knowledge, it is also a source of inspiration for poets. On the other hand, “fire” is referring to the divine desires of poets. Together, this epic-like invocation urges the divine
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