The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Richard III Essay example

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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
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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.

Beginning with Anne?s declaration of Richard as the ?devil? that no mortals can endure (I, ii. 45-46), the motif of ghosts and demons continues to weave its way into Richard III as Richard is continually associated with hellhounds and with the shape-shifting Proteus, and as the two young princes Edward and Richard discuss the ghosts of their dead uncles. The…