The Supernatural In Shakespeare's Richard Iii

1524 words - 6 pages

The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Richard III

Casting a darkly mythical aura around Richard III, supernatural elements are intrinsic to this Shakespearean history play. The prophetic dreams of Clarence and Stanley blur the line between dream and reality, serving to foreshadow impending doom. The ghosts that appear before Richard III and Richmond before their battle create an atmosphere of dread and suspense, and they also herald Richard's destiny. The curses of three female royalties are fulfilled at the end, serving as reminders that the divine powers are stronger than Richard's malice. Together, the supernatural elements of dreams, ghosts, and curses unify the plot of Richard III and allow the divine to triumph over evil.

Dreams can lead even a king awry, as in the case of King Edward IV who ?hearkens after prophecies and dreams? and wrongly locks Clarence up in the Tower (I, i. 53). Thus, Clarence and Stanley?s prophetic dreams are taken somewhat lightly by both characters, even though their dreams not only predict the future, but are also laden with symbolism. Clarence dreams that his brother Richard III causes his drowning at sea. Almost immediately afterwards, Clarence is killed and drowned in a cask of wine by Richard?s hired murderers. His dream paralleling reality, Clarence speaks of the horror and the pain of drowning: ?O Lord! Methought what pain it was to drown,/What dreadful noise of waters in my ears,/What sights of ugly death within my eyes? (I, iv. 21-23). This speech evokes sympathy for Clarence, so that although he too participated in the killing of Edward, the son of Henry VI, he is no longer the main character to blame ? the burden of the atrocious crime is laid upon Richard III, the killer of his own brother. Clarence?s dream about drowning is reminiscent of the River Styx, and this is reinforced by his thoughts about the afterlife. Clarence dreams of the torments he must face from the spirits in the netherworld because he has killed Edward, and this foreshadows the appearance of the ghosts in Richard?s dream before his battle against Richmond.

Stanley?s dream, too, reveals Richard?s murderous streak. In Act III scene iv, Stanley dreams that Hastings is being gored by a boar, Richard?s heraldic symbol. Soon after, this dream merges into reality as Richard orders Hasting?s execution. Cursed by Margaret as an ?elvish-marked abortive, rooting hog? (I, iii. 225), Richard is seen as a deformed and dangerous changeling. The boar in Stanley?s dream reinforces this image of Richard, and it reinstates Richard?s aggressive and violent tendencies. Although Hastings is involved in Stanley?s dream, he does not dream, but curses Richard by saying to his executioners: ?Come lead me to the block; bear [Richard] my head./They smile at me, who shortly shall be dead? (III, v. 106-107). This reality follow-up to Stanley?s dream foreshadows Richard?s imminent death due to his ruthless killings.


Find Another Essay On The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Richard III

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

The Portrayal of Socially Destructive and Over-Ambitious Richard, in Shakespeare's Richard III

2887 words - 12 pages Richard, the main character of the Shakespeare’s play, Richard III is portrayed as socially destructive and politically over-ambitious. His destructive potential is depicted by the way he relates with the other protagonists in the play and also by what he confesses as his intentions. Richard’s political ambition is revealed through his strategic calculations based on the order of birth in his York family which puts him third away from the

Film Review of Richard Loncraine's Adaptation of William Shakespeare's Richard III

1696 words - 7 pages Film Review of Richard Loncraine's Adaptation of William Shakespeare's Richard III "Civil war divides the nation" the first caption we see at the onset of this adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III sets the tone for scenes to come later in the movie. It starts by focusing on Shakespeare's underlying tone regarding Richard as somewhat an outlandish character to be mocked and amused by. Enter Richard to "stab" Edward in his war room at

'Richard is a truly evil character with no justification for his actions'. To what extent do you agree with this assessment of Richard's character in Shakespeare's Richard III?

834 words - 3 pages actions, it is his last minute regret which causes me to believe that he isn't truly evil.Richard shows in many situations throughout the play Richard III that he is an evil character. His arranging for the death of Clarence, and his treatment of Lady Anne are clearly evil acts. Considering this however, he still manages to maintain justification for his actions, based on a hatred of his own deformity, and a powerful desire to become King of England

The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Works

1728 words - 7 pages fairies appear in A Mid-Summer Nights Dream. In addition, magic cures are given in All’s Well, evil curses are chanted in Richard III, and prophecies are told in Julius Caesar. Most of Shakespeare’s works contain some form of the supernatural. Shakespeare, however, was too great of a writer to lower the quality of his work to satisfy the taste of the Elizabethans. Although the court sometimes pressured his into including some form of the

The Scrivener and History in Richard III

2602 words - 10 pages history play is not addressed in their essays. Reynolds, in her essay “mourning and Memory in Richard III,” addresses the role of historical construction in the play through the lens of the women and the role of religious debate present at the time of Richard III’s writing. Reynolds approaches the creation of a history in the figure of Margaret, whose insistence upon memorializing her sons and preserving history becomes complicated in light of the

Richard III, The Innocent

1186 words - 5 pages The controversy that has surrounded Richard III is one that will not die. Since the reign of Henry VII the question of Richard's guilt or innocence in regards to his nephews' murder has plagued historians. The story of a sinister and murderous Richard originated from Henry VII's time of rule. The myth explained Richard murdered the two sons of his brother Edward IV and usurped the crown following Edward's death. However, this account has been

Shakespeare's Use of the Supernatural in "Macbeth"

1113 words - 4 pages The supernatural was a popular element in many of the plays written in Shakespeare's time (including Hamlet) and everyone of Shakespeare's time found the supernatural fascinating. Even King James I took a special interest in supernatural and written a book, Daemonologie, on witchcraft. It must be remembered that, in Shakespeare's day, supernatural referred to things that were "above Nature"; things which existed, but not part of the normal human

Use of the Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth

651 words - 3 pages Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth In Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare uses an underlying motif of the supernatural to control the characters and add a new dimension to the play. Shakespeare uses a large motif of light vs. darkness throughout the play to present moral choices and religious ideas. When the play opens, there is thunder rolling around and the witches on stage. The thunder is symbolic of darkness and

The Supernatural in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1975 words - 8 pages The Supernatural in William Shakespeare's Macbeth In Macbeth the supernatural is used to entertain and terrify the audience. Supernatural things are those that do not belong in the natural world. In Elizabethan times, people were so terrified of the supernatural because they believed that there was a natural order which effectively governed the universe, and when this order was misaligned things would start to go very

Shakespeare's Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth

8038 words - 32 pages Shakespeare's Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth The supernatural is widely used in Macbeth, and covers major sections of it. It is used to generate interest, and to provoke thought and controversy. At the time the play was written, James the 1st was the English monarch. James the 1st was originally James the 4th on the Scottish throne, until there was a union of crowns between England and Scotland in the late

Similar Essays

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

The Evil King In Shakespeare's Richard Iii

2389 words - 10 pages The Evil King in Shakespeare's Richard III Richard is an actor, a fully evil actor, who through his mastery of the stage has come to appreciate his skill. Richard Moulton, in his Shakespeare as a Dramatic Thinker, proclaims Richard's wonder at his own command of the stage: "Richard has become an artist in evil: the natural emotions attending crime-whether of passionate longing, or horror and remorse-have given place to artistic

The Opening Speech Of Richard Iii In William Shakespeare's Play

1062 words - 4 pages The Opening Speech of Richard III in William Shakespeare's Play Richard III is a historical play and we are drawn to this factor from Richard's speech at the opening of the play. Shakespeare uses Richard's character as his main device for setting the scene. As it is a play the audience would see Richard entering on a bare stage and this alone would leave an effect of them which would soon be reinforced by the speech

The Character Of King Richard Iii In William Shakespeare's Play

1064 words - 4 pages The Character of King Richard III in William Shakespeare's Play In my opinion Richard is definitely not a hero, he is nothing more than an immoral villain. He is a cunning, callous and carefree murderer. However, for much of the play the audience view him as a hero. Throughout my essay I aim to argue why Richard is an immoral villain whilst contrasting why many may perceive him as a hero. For much of the play