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Examine thoroughly how Clarence's speech brings out the quality of the nightmare for the audience. Consider also how people of Shakespeare's time might view the nightmare differently to us.

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Introduction

Examine thoroughly how Clarence's speech brings out the quality of the nightmare for the audience. Consider also how people of Shakespeare's time might view the nightmare differently to us. The speech I am going to be examining is from one of Shakespeare's plays, Richard III. It is the part of the play where George, Duke of Clarence is explaining a prophetic nightmare he had whilst being locked in the Tower of London. Richard III was a real king of England, but had been killed in battle, around 100 years prior to when Shakespeare wrote this play. At the time of writing, in 1594, the queen was Elizabeth I, a Tudor. One of the Queens ancestors, Henry VII, had killed Richard III on Bosworth Field. Shakespeare, to make sure he was in favour with the Queen, made Richard's character into a complete villain, as well as physically deformed. The play takes place before Richard becomes king. It is about how Richard, Duke of Gloucester, plots to eradicate anyone standing in the way of him becoming king. In order for Richard to come to the throne, after his brother Edward IV), he must dispose of the three people due to inherit the throne before him: his brother, George, and his nephews, Edward and Richard. To do this, Richard starts a rumour that someone whose name begins with 'G' will murder Edwards's heirs. Clarence (George) is then imprisoned in the Tower of London by the King as he is seen as a threat. ...read more.

Middle

The jewels are said to have 'wooed the slimy bottom of the deep and mocked the dead bones that lay there scattered'. Shakespeare is personifying them as they are not actually alive and only living things woo and mock. Clarence is scared by this as it looks like the skulls are alive. It seems as if the dead has come alive to get him. It is a sign of his impending doom. After this Clarence tells Brackenbury that he tried to 'yield the ghost'. He wanted to set his soul free and die, but 'still the envious flood stopped in my soul and would not let it forth'. He feels suffocated by the sea and the dream and wants to die and escape but he cannot. The way Clarence describes his desire to die is in a very dramatic and crude way. Clarence says that as his body would not let his spirit escape, his body 'almost burst to belch it in the sea'. The dream continues to torture Clarence. When Shakespeare says that his body 'almost burst' he is trying to portray the immense pressure Clarence was feeling. He is underwater, and so he is surrounded by water which overwhelms him and he is fighting against the dream and the water, trying to escape it. As he is underwater he may have been holding his breath and if he continues to do this, it may feel like his lungs are going to burst. ...read more.

Conclusion

This must have been very traumatic and intense as it awoke him from his dream and left him thinking that he 'could not believe but that I was in hell'. The pace of the poem at this end point rises, only to suddenly drop as he wakes from the dream. This gives the impression that he is suddenly awoken from the dream as he is shocked awake. This is a common feature of many nightmares. Some aspects of Clarence's nightmare still feature in horror today. A common feeling is that of drowning and suffocation. It is a feeling of helplessness and a widespread fear, although the fear would have been more horrific in Shakespeare's time as the sea was more or less untouched and completely unknown. Another shared feature is hell. It is a placed commonly feared by the guilty minded as they worry that it actually exists and they may be sent there after death. As Clarence's dream was all about death, and he had a guilty conscience, it isn't unexpected that he would worry about hell as religion was important at this time and it would have been drilled into people about the consequences of sin. As I have mentioned previously, Clarence's dream was prophetic, a prediction, a warning. The next part of the play is the death of Clarence (off stage). The audience is told that he is drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. The dream is a warning the Richard is going to kill him by drowning. In the dream Clarence pushes him overboard, killing him, and in the play, Richard has him drowned. This is Shakespeare's way of telling the unaware audience Clarence's future. ...read more.

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