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Exploration of the techniques used to foreshadow death in Richard III Shakespeare's tragedy of Richard III is a play where death is one of the central themes

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Introduction

Exploration of the techniques used to foreshadow death in Richard III 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. ...read more.

Middle

deaths of Henry VI and Prince Edward, but now she realises that anyone would be 'mad' 'and be they wife, if any be so mad' 4.1.75 to marry Richard. Anne's death is also foreshadowed after her curse with the ominous line 'I'll have her but I will not keep her long; 2.1.233 this line strongly signifies death for Anne. Anne's death is also slightly foreshadowed through Richard 'That Anne my queen is sick and like to die.' 4.2.58. However, even though Anne's death is foreshadowed through her curse, Margaret's character is used more principally with regards to curses. Richard is the first character whom Margaret manages to curse. 'Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world' 1.3.140. Margaret is being very blunt here, and is literally damning Richard to hell. She then goes on to curse Richard further, 'The sorrow that I have by right is yours' 1.3.170. As the sorrow that Margaret has is the death of her husband and son, this would suggest that the only way that Richard can have this 'sorrow' is through his own death. She also puts Richard in the same context as words such as 'venom' 'sin' and 'death', and by doing this she is consequently relating Richard to death, and subsequently foreshadowing his death. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition to curses, imagery is also a vital technique used throughout the play to foreshadow the death of characters in Richard III, 'That cropped the golden prime of this sweet prince' 1.2.250. This language suggests a premature harvesting of the 'golden' and 'sweet' young prince, and thus his death. This harvest imagery is also used to reflect Richard, 'Right as a snow in harvest' 1.4.231. The first murderer intuitively links Richard to Winter, a symbol of death, and in the context of the play harvest imagery is a metaphor for death rather than fruition, thus foreshadowing the death of Richard, as the 'snow' (Richard), has been but with the 'harvest' (death). Furthermore, shadow imagery is another technique used in Richard III to foreshadow death, 'Unless to see my own shadow in the sun' 1.4.26. Richard had previously in scene one expressed his hatred of the 'glorious summer' and Richard claims that the only use for the sun is to see his own shadow, this shadow imagery is continued throughout the play, 'Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass, That I may see my shadow as I pass' 1.2.266-67, this echoes Richards previous shadow references. The use of this imagery is very dark, and is somewhat reflective of the theme of tragedy, and therefore death, principally of Richard. Other imagery that connotes tragedy and death is that of war, 'Grim-visaged war hath' 1.1.9. ...read more.

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