Friday, 8 February 2013

Ghosts in Shakespeare 1.

The discovery and imminent re-interment of the remains of Richard III made me ponder Shakespeare's controversial treatment of the last Plantagenet king of England. One obvious feature of the Bard's play is that - like Hamlet, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar - it features fairly conventional ghostly apparitions.

In Richard's case, it's on the night before the battle of Bosworth Field (just when a warlord needs a good night's kip, or knight's kip) that all his victims turn up to tell him off in no uncertain terms. Just to underline the point, the same ghosts, by some feat of bilocation, also appear to Henry Tudor (here called Richmond, after his more English-sounding dukedom earldom I suppose) to tell it will all be fine, no sweat.


Here's the Shakey quotey bit:




Enter the Ghost of Prince Edward, son to King Henry VI

Ghost

of Prince Edward
[To KING RICHARD III]
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!
Think, how thou stab'dst me in my prime of youth
At Tewksbury: despair, therefore, and die!

To RICHMOND

Be cheerful, Richmond; for the wronged souls
Of butcher'd princes fight in thy behalf
King Henry's issue, Richmond, comforts thee.

Enter the Ghost of King Henry VI

Ghost

of King Henry VI
[To KING RICHARD III]
When I was mortal, my anointed body
By thee was punched full of deadly holes
Think on the Tower and me: despair, and die!
Harry the Sixth bids thee despair, and die!

To RICHMOND

Virtuous and holy, be thou conqueror!
Harry, that prophesied thou shouldst be king,
Doth comfort thee in thy sleep: live, and flourish!

Enter the Ghost of CLARENCE

Ghost of CLARENCE
[To KING RICHARD III]
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!
I, that was wash'd to death with fulsome wine,
Poor Clarence, by thy guile betrayed to death!
To-morrow in the battle think on me,
And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!--

To RICHMOND

Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster
The wronged heirs of York do pray for thee
Good angels guard thy battle! live, and flourish!

Enter the Ghosts of RIVERS, GRAY, and VAUGHAN

Ghost of RIVERS
[To KING RICHARD III]
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow,
Rivers. that died at Pomfret! despair, and die!

Ghost of GREY
[To KING RICHARD III]
Think upon Grey, and let thy soul despair!

Ghost of VAUGHAN
[To KING RICHARD III]
Think upon Vaughan, and, with guilty fear,
Let fall thy lance: despair, and die!

All
[To RICHMOND]
Awake, and think our wrongs in Richard's bosom
Will conquer him! awake, and win the day!

Enter the Ghost of HASTINGS

Ghost of HASTINGS
[To KING RICHARD III]
Bloody and guilty, guiltily awake,
And in a bloody battle end thy days!
Think on Lord Hastings: despair, and die!


No comments: