Richard III

The Sun and Its Shadow

Shakespeare's Richard III is a play pervasive in figurative language, one of the most notable being the symbolic image of the sun and the shadow it casts. In an examination of a short passage from the text, it will be argued that Richard is compared to a shadow in relation to the sun, which has traditionally been held as a symbol of the king. The passage is significant not only because it speaks volumes about the plots of Richard, but also because it is relevant in understanding the overall plot of the play, which in the first few acts is almost indistinguishable from the plot of the scheming Duke of Gloucester.

The comparison of Richard to a shadow is especially clear in an exchange between Richard and Queen Margaret:

Richard Gloucester: Our eyrie buildeth in the cedar's top,

And dallies with the wind, and scorns the sun.

Queen Margaret: And turns the sun to shade. Alas, alas!

Witness my son, now in the shade of death,

Whose bright outshining beams thy cloudy wrath

Hath in eternal darkness folded up. (1.3.262-267)

When Margaret tells Richard that he "turns the sun to shade," this can be interpreted in different ways. Margaret is clearly referring to her son whom Richard killed, and is, therefore, now a...

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