The Foreshadow in the Death of Richard III in Shakespeare

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 front of an Elizabethan audience, an

audience who would have believed that foreshadowing, both obvious and

discreet, would have been extremely important. In addition they would

have taken dreams, one of the principal devices that Shakespeare uses

in Richard III to foreshadow death, very seriously.

Dreams in Richard III play a vital role in ensuring that the plot

moves along, moreover they play a significant part in the

foreshadowing of death. ‘So full of fearful dreams and ugly sights’

1.4.3-4. Clarence’s dream in this scene is one of the more evident

techniques Shakespeare uses to foreshadow death. Clarence interprets

his death as being an accident, however, as the audience is very much

aware of Richard’s true character, it becomes evident that it was not

an accident at all. ‘What sights of ugly death within mine eyes;

1.4.23-24’. Shakespeare makes very obvious references to Clarence’s

death in this dream, as well as using very morbid imager...

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... The Ghosts use very ominous

language when talking to Richard, and the phrase ‘Despair and Die’ is

repeated many times, which goes to further accentuate Richard’s

impending death.

Considering these ideas it can be concluded that from Richard’s first

appearance, the entire play has been veiled with death, which is

foreshadowed throughout the play of Richard III using techniques such

as imagery which reflects the theme of tragedy, and using it to

associate characters with seasons. Techniques such as these are fairly

discreet; nevertheless they are still evident to the audience. However

there are techniques used that are clearly apparent to the audience,

for example Margaret’s curses which are sometimes very literal in

their meaning, and often straight to the point.
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