King Richard Iii Commentary

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This is a passage from act 5 scene 3, lines 178 to 207 of the play King Richard the third by William Shakespeare. This soliloquy is spoken by King Richard following a nightmare regarding the ghosts of his past returning to curse him. This passage can be considered the only major piece in the play where the audience can see through Richard’s impenetrable confidence and artificial appearance. His character is not further developed as a charming villain. Instead, for the first time, it is deteriorated. Shakespeare presents Richard’s downfall through an unusually resentful tone as well as successfully utilizing certain poetic devices to emphasize the mood and message. The first section, from lines 178 to 182, shows Richard’s state fresh out of his nightmare. Here, he is still processing what had occurred and commenting on his state physically. The first line; “Give me another horse! Bind up my wounds!” is said by Richard unconsciously as it is his first reaction to the nightmare. This clause actually foreshadows Richard’s situation during the battle at Bosworth where his horse is slain, leaving him at a disadvantage by battling on foot. The usage of exclamation points in this line and also in the next line, “Have mercy, Jesu!” shows how the effects from the ghosts’ visits still lingered in Richard, causing him to answer in short, bold sentences. This is the first time in the play where he cries out with such fear. In line 179, Shakespeare utilizes (a-pos-si-oh-pee-sis); “Have mercy, Jesu! – Soft, I did but dream”. This shows the change in atmosphere as Richard realizes he was only dreaming. The anxious, terror-stricken atmosphere suddenly weakens into a distressed one. He regains full consciousness but the rest of the passage shows how he is not the same confident villain he once was. This can be perceived for the first time in line 180, where Richard accuses his conscience for the unpleasant dreams shown by an apostrophe, personifying his conscience as cowardly....
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