'Full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams': Dreams and Tragedy in Shakespeare’s Richard III

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Abstract

This article argues that dreams are an important and deliberate part of Shakespeare’s conception of tragedy in Richard III. Shakespeare, when composing this play, exploited the uncertainty in his time about whether dreams were natural or supernatural phenomena in order to deploy dream devices as a form of commentary on the material as well as spiritual implications of his characters’ actions. As a result, dreams ultimately sharpen the play’s focus on human agency by amplifying the characters’ ambitions, crimes and guilty consciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-49
Number of pages8
JournalCahiers Elisabethains
Volume92
Issue number1
Early online date05 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Shakespeare
  • dreams
  • tragedy
  • Richard III

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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