Curses and Prophecies in Richard III College
The usurpation of Macbeth is said to have been foretold by the three witches; and the tyranny of Richard by omens. John Black’s study of the Elizabethan era reiterates that ‘in spite of its learning, culture and realism the elizabethans were permeated with superstition.’ Thus Shakespeare effectively used imprecations and prophecies to arouse suspense in his audience, as they placed strong credibility in the forces of the supernatural.
The audience is first introduced to the powerful element of prophecy in Richard’s first soliloquy as it exposes us to his natural propensity to be evil. It is because of Richard’s rancorous envy of those who have greater advantages of figure compared to him who is ‘curtailed of this fair proportion’ that causes him to swell with insecurity hence thriving on infamy. Richard’s psychological acuity of the people around him works to his advantage as he cleverly uses prophecies as a catalyst to his plot to ‘prove a villain’. In act 1 scene 1, the word prophecies is mentioned twice in the phrase ‘ By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams’ and ‘About a prophecy which says that ‘G’’ which leads to the audience’s realisation of the potency of prophecies and its dramatic effect on the play as King Edward IV...
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