The Effectiveness Of William Shakespeare's Use Of Supernatural In The Final Act Of Richard Iii

1412 words - 6 pages

The Effectiveness of William Shakespeare's Use of Supernatural in the Final Act of Richard III

Richard III was written by William Shakespeare and tells the story of
how Richard III wants to become king and does everything in his power
to get there by assassinating members of his family to do so, for
example, the Duke of Clarence, Lord Hastings, Lady Anne, Lord Rivers,
the Duke of Buckingham, Henry VI, Prince Edward, Prince Edward V and
Prince Richard. The last Act contains many supernatural elements such
as ghosts of the people Richard III has murdered or got killed and
curses, for example, Buckingham remembering Margaret's curse,
prophecies and dreams, a message from the supernatural from the
future. Shakespeare may have used these supernatural events to
entertain his audience who would have believed in ghosts and that the
ghosts of the murdered family members have come to curse Richard.

The differences between Shakespeare's audience and today's audiences
are that Shakespeare's audience believed in the supernatural much
more. Ghosts, curses, prophecies and dreams were believed in when they
told something about the future and what it meant which were taken
literally. Today's audience don't believe in ghosts, curses and
prophecies as much. The audience interpret the supernatural things as
a representation and we may see it as an illustration of what's going
on in Richard's head. Shakespeare's audiences would have seen the
supernatural as evil spirits to curse Richard and to make him feel
guilty for what he has done to his family. However, the paranormal
still interests the modern audiences, for example miracles. The
paranormal is used in contemporary plays and films to make the play
more theatrical, exhilarating and more lively. By making the play more
theatrical, the audience can see the individual personalities of the
characters. For example Richard seen as a belligerent, vicious,
vulgar, hideous person who wants to prove that he is "a villain."

One example of the paranormal in Act V is when Richard refers to how
the ghosts make him feel responsible: "O coward conscience, how dost
thou afflict me" but he is able to see it differently. Also this
recalls Margaret's curse: "the worm of conscience still begnaw thy
soul," which meant that the centre of his conscience would incessantly
affect his soul forever. This shows that Richard is feeling guilty, he
fears the ghostly vengeance of all the people he had killed and that
the curses made by the ghosts will affect him when he goes to war.
Richard is able to calm himself down: "What do I fear?" this proves
that he has no feeling for anyone, no conscience and is going to prove
that he is a villain despite his earlier attack of remorse.

Here, Shakespeare's use of supernatural is effectual because it
reminds us of the members of...

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