The Foreshadow in the Death of Richard III in Shakespeare Essay

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The Foreshadow in the Death of Richard III in Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s tragedy of Richard III is a play where death is one of the central themes. It is therefore essential that Shakespeare makes this theme obvious to the audience even before characters die, and his primary way of doing this is through the foreshadowing of these deaths. He does this through dreams, language forms, imagery, curses, character and broken oaths. Due to these devices, the audience is already aware that certain characters will die, enabling Shakespeare to create dramatic irony. The context of the play is fundamental in ensuring that foreshadowing is taken seriously. Richard III would have been originally performed in
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In addition throughout Clarence’s retelling of the dream, he uses words which are synonymous with death and pain; ‘drown’ ‘dreadful’ ‘fearful’ ‘gnawed’ ‘pain’ ‘dead men’. The use of these words aids Shakespeare in creating an ominous feeling which surrounds the character of Clarence. This ties in heavily with the context of the play, as an Elizabethan audience would have taken these signs seriously. This results in the audience becoming aware of Richard’s true character, creating successfully dramatic irony within the play.

Furthermore the audience is already aware by this point in the play that Clarence is likely to die in the play, as his death has been previously foreshadowed through that character of Richard, ‘Well your imprisonment shall not be long’ 1.1.114. Shakespeare has previously used Richard’s opening soliloquy to establish Richard as a character, so the audience is able to see the hidden meaning behind these words; that in fact his imprisonment shall not be long because he is going to die, not because he is going to be released. This succeeds in adding heavy irony to the play, as Clarence is very much unaware of the hidden meaning behind Richard’s words.

In addition to Clarence, Hastings is another character whose death is very much foreshadowed, primarily through the ‘loyalty plot’ set up by Richard. One of the first instances when it becomes evident that

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