CONCERNING THE USE OF THE SUPERNATURAL
IN FURTHERING THE PLOT OF RICHARD III
On a technical level, Richard III is considered a historical play; it relates the events, if dramatized and romanticized, following the War of the Roses and the birth of the Tudor dynasty. However, Shakespeare’s use of supernatural themes and motifs in furthering the plot is somewhat out of character in its use in such a type of play; usually such themes and motifs form an unconscious backdrop from which the author creates depth and is not portrayed as an active force in the play. This makes the play lean more toward the style of one of his tragedy plays.
The use of the supernatural, be it in traditional fairy tales such as Snow White or Jack and the Beanstalk or in the more recent works such as Harry Potter, the Chronicles or Narnia or the Lord of the Rings, is a delicate thing. Magic is the term most would apply to it. Fantasy works are full of it – magic wands, magic shoes, magic rings and even magic lands. It can be defined as a mechanism within a story to bypass the natural laws. Essentially, it is the means of moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Magic must therefore be treated as a natural law as well – because in a fantasy story, it is real and tangible. This requires therefore a framework within which magic (or the supernatural) can be defined and quantified. Take Harry Potter for example; magic is shown to be something like a science – it can be learnt and studied and practiced. In Jack and the Beanstalk and in Snow White as well as in almost all folklore stories, magic is something that is considered inherent to the world; it appears seldom and usually only to those who look for it or want to master it. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien took a different approach; in Narnia and the Lord of the Rings magic is rationalized from a Christian point of view by implying that it stems from an omnipotent being (Aslan and Eru Illuvatar) who is comparable to Judeo-Christian...
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