Prologue comes from the Greek term prologos, which means “before word,” is a gap of a tale that establishes the setting, and gives heritage details.
Generally speaking, the main function of a prologue tells some earlier story, and connects it to the primary story. Similarly, it serves as a way to introduce characters of a story, and sheds light on their roles. In its current sense, a prologue acts as a separate entity, and is not considered part of the contemporary story that a writer ventures to inform.
Examples of Prologue in Literature
Example #1: Prologue on the Greek Stage
The prologos in Greek dramas included the above-noted features, however it had a wider importance than the modern-day interpretations of the prologue. Greek prologos become greater like a preface – an introduction to a literary work provided via a dramatist, to tell how the concept of the tale developed. Therefore, in Greek dramas, prologue became a complete episode, or the primary act, which changed into succeeded via the last acts of a play.
The invention of prologue is attributed to Euripides. He prefixed a prologue to his plays as an explanatory first act if you want to make the imminent activities in a play understandable for his target market. Other dramatists accompanied in his footsteps, and prologue became part of the traditional formulation for writing plays. Almost all Greek prologues instructed approximately occasions that passed off much in advance in time than the occasions depicted in the play.
Example #2: Prologue on the Latin Stage
Plautus, a Latin playwright, has written examples of prologues in his plays that were extra intricate than Greek prologues. His prologues had been popular for his or her romantic quality, and were typically executed with the aid of characters that did no longer make an appearance in the play.
A prologue to Plautus’ play Rudens is a super manifestation of his genius in writing prologue. Later, French playwright Moliere revived prologue at the Latin stage by prefixing it to his play Amphitryon. Furthermore, we notice French playwright John Racine introducing his choral tragedy Esther, with a prologue with the man or woman Piety as its speaker.
Example #3: Prologue on the Elizabethan Stage
The early English dramatists had been influenced through the traditions of prologues in Greek and Latin plays. Even the early styles of drama, mystery, and morality plays always commenced with a homily, which changed into a spiritual statement at the biblical story that became to be finished in those performs. Elizabethan dramatists took suggestion from the Greek and Latin lifestyle of prologue, preserving it as a compulsory component of their performs.
In 1562, Thomas Norton, and Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset wrote Gorboduc, which is assumed to be the first English play. He organized a pantomime that acted as a prologue for his play. Later, he wrote Induction, which became a prologue to his Miscellany of quick romantic epics.
A prologue to Elizabethan performs typically served to quieten and relax an audience earlier than the graduation of a play. It then added the themes of the play and other particulars to the target market, making them mentally prepared for the occasions they have been to witness within the performance. Also, it changed into considered necessary to beg their leniency for any error that would occur within the writing of the play, or inside the performances of actors on stage.
Usually, the person who uttered the prologue changed into dressed in black, which will differentiate him from the rest of the actors who wore colorful costumes in the course of their performances. For instance, read the following lines from the prologue in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:
“Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, in which we lay our scene),
From historical grudge ruin to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil arms unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of those two foes
A pair of star-crossed fans take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their demise bury their parents’ strife.
The worried passage of their dying-marked love
And the continuance in their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, naught ought to remove,
Is now the 2 hours’ visitors of our stage—
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
What right here shall miss, our toil shall try to mend.”
The Chorus inside the extract now not most effective introduces the theme, however additionally asks the audience to be attentive “with affected person ears attend.”
Example #4: Non-Dramatic Prologue
In English literature, a prologue changed into hired in non-dramatic fiction in addition to fiction. One of the earliest prologue examples is Geoffrey Chaucer’s A Prologue to Canterbury Tales, which became built on the conventional pattern. He used it to introduce all of his characters, or “pilgrims,” in dramatic details earlier than each of them told their tale on their manner to Canterbury to go to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett.
Function of Prologue
As previously stated, the number one characteristic of a prologue is to permit the readers or target market be aware about the in advance part of the tale, and enable them to narrate it to the primary tale. This literary device is also a method to give characters and set up their roles.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw