The Contribution Of The Supernatural To Richard Iii

1487 words - 6 pages

The Contribution of the Supernatural to Richard III

During the Renaissance period people were very superstitious and
England on a whole was an extremely religious country; people believed
in both God and the Devil and Heaven and Hell. They also believed in
prophecies, supernatural and curses. A modern audience would have
reacted very differently to the play than a Shakespearean audience.
The events contained within Richard III must have seemed very real to
a Shakespearean audience as it depicts the historical events of the
rise and fall of Richard III. For a Shakespearean audience these
events happened only a century earlier. To a modern audience it is
viewed as what it is, a dramatisation of a historical event.

The War of the Roses was a civil war in England that lasted from
1455-1487. These thirty years of warfare were even more destructive to
England than the hundred years of warfare had been in the previous
century. Fought between two branches of the Plantagenet family, the
Houses of Lancaster and York, the wars were named after the emblems of
the contending parties: the white rose of York and the red of
Lancaster. Richard’s opening soliloquy refers to the fact that the
Yorkist faction is in the ascendant:-

‘Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.’

This is a reference to Richard and his brother Edward IV being
Yorkist.

William Shakespeare’s play Richard III is littered with references to
the supernatural. This contributes to our understanding of the plot of
the play; it also brings excitement to the audience and draws them
into the action of the play. I believe Shakespeare brought the
supernatural element into the play because he created a character,
Richard, so in control of his destiny that only a superhuman power
could possibly bring about his downfall, but also to remind the
audience of the omnipotent presence of God within the play. Richard
III is a play based upon the dramatisation of history.

The supernatural is an event that depends upon the superseding of the
laws of nature, an event which cannot occur naturally in our world
under any circumstances with or without the assistance of any natural
being. Only God, or the Devil, has the power to cause supernatural
events to occur. Richard III deals with supernatural elements such as
curses, devils, dreams and witchcraft. I believe supernatural elements
were included in Richard III to add a sense of dread that matches the
malice of Richard, to show that divine nemesis exists. Shakespeare
created Richard as a machiavellian who takes delight in governing
through fear and force. He is a character of sheer evil; however
Shakespeare provides a contrast to Richard’s villainy via the voices
of the female characters. Margaret and Anne contribute by predicting
the dire...

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