The Cold, Fearful Soliloquy of a Condemned

The Cold, Fearful Soliloquy of a Condemned King The night before battle at Bosworth field, Richards sleep is disturbed by the ghosts of those he murdered in his scheme to acquire and retain the kingship. The ghosts haunt Richard with prophesies of the justice due him. Startled from sleep, Richards shaken soliloquy is delivered fearfully and honestly, testifying his gradation of sins and foreshadowing his inevitable demise. While dreaming, Richard is reminded of the evil deeds he has performed by the ghosts of his victims. As Richard sleeps his conscience is awake for the first time in the play. The kings waking soliloquy in Act V, Scene 3 is the strongest example of Richards troubling guilt, failing confidence, and fear of moral retribution. The ambitious Richards resolve is shaken by the realization that his evil deeds have assigned him a fate that wrests away control. The kings reactions to the ghosts are confused and contradicting; they are the desperate lamentations of a condemned man. In Act IV, Scene 4 the first mention of Richards prophetic dreams is made by Lady Anne to Queen Elizabeth, For never yet one hour in his bed / Did I enjoy the golden dew of sleep, / But with his timorous dreams was still awakened. (ll. 82-84). Anne tells of Richards ongoing nightmares. The dreams are a sign of a guilty conscience upon a decidedly, subtle, false, and treacherous villain (I.i.37). Awake, Richards evil and ambition deny any intrusion of conscience. Asleep, Richard is at his least villainous. With evil in remission, moral consequences are no longer eclipsed. …

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