In the play King Richard III, Act V, scene V has several outstanding incidents that are emphasized by variations in lighting. The scene depicts a night when Richard is preparing for battle at Bosworth Field (Shakespeare). The lighting of the scene depicts darkness with a spotlight being shone on the character. The spotlight leaves the larger part of the stage dark to give the impression of the night.
When King Richard goes to sleep, he dreams about ghosts of the men he had murdered, and they appear on stage. The ghostly spirits condemn Richard and tell him that he will be killed the next morning in battle. Each of the ghosts speaks to Richard and then to Richmond whom they assure that he would be King after the death of Richard (Shakespeare). This scene is dimly lit with intense blue burning light to give the illusion of death, and despair as the ghosts speak to Richard. The blue light fades and it is replaced by bright white light as the ghosts speak to Richmond. The bright, white light gives the impression of encouragement, hope, and love.
The spotlight shines on the face of Richard, and he is seen as crying for Jesus’ mercy. As Richard cries, darkness envelops him to give the illusion of the imminent destruction and downfall that was to befall him in the battle. As the ghosts vanish from the stage, and Richard wakes up to find that he was dreaming, the stage lighting changes slightly and becomes brighter to give the impression of hope. However, he notices a blue burning light that ought to symbolize the presence of ghosts. In many plays, the presence ghosts is created by blue burning light, usually accompanied by some blue smoke. This lighting effect goes on to indicate that the ghosts that King Richard had dreamt about, had a significant presence in his life and that they were imminent and aggrieved.
As soon as Richard notices the blue burning light, the lights dim to indicate hopelessness and regret. Shortly, a bright light shines on the stage as Richard walks around. The bright white light indicates the hope that Richard was trying to build within himself that his death was not imminent (Shakespeare). The bright light rhymes with the hopeful thought that Richard had, he thought that he ought not to fear being murdered since he was the only murderer, and he could not kill himself!
In the latter stages of the play, a massive bright spotlight shines on the face of King Richard. The bright light that had previously lit the stage gives way to darkness. The darkness at this point rhymes with the Richard’s imminent death. He confesses that he is guilty of all the sins leveled against him such as murder and deceit. The fact that he is the villain is shown by the massive spotlight on his face as if probing his persona. The light seems to torment him and lay him and his sins bare. Richard knows that no one would pity him and the focusing of light on his face indicate that he was ultimately destined to pay for his sins. The conviction is so strong that Richard stops pitying himself and becomes comfortable with the fact that he ought to pay for his sins. At this point, a much larger portion of the stage gets brighter. Richard then falls asleep again and dreams again. Though there are no ghosts, the stage is dimly lit to indicate the hopelessness and imminent death.
Shakespeare, William, and Peter Holland. The tragedy of King Richard the Third. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 2000. Print.