Richard III and The Dark Age Myth
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The Dark Ages are not the Middle Ages or any true period or era of history. They are the “Mythical Middle Ages,”- a fictional period of history constructed by post medieval writers ranging from the Renaissance to the present. Like all myths, the myth of the Dark Ages is a myth that is a combination of fiction and half-truth that forms part of an ideology. Some aspects of the Dark Age myth are more undoubtedly fictional than others, such as the legend of witches and dragons. Other aspects of the Dark Age myth are clearly more based on truth, but a truth that is often over-elaborated and emphasized, such as the incidents of leprosy, medieval warfare, and torture. This thesis explores the myths of the Dark Ages in William Shakespeare’s play Richard III. It examines the myths of medieval grotesqueness and spells and prophecies. The thesis also examines how England in the fifteenth-century was not a place of “darkness,” but a place of glorious advancements and innovations.