Richard III

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The Clock Symbol Analysis

The Clock Symbol Icon
The clock symbolizes time, which feels unpredictable and sped-up throughout the play. It feels that way for a reason: Shakespeare has in fact compressed fourteen years worth of history into the span of a month. At the start of the play, Richard seems to work the sped-up time to his favor, successfully wooing Anne as soon as her husband has died and passing off his murder of Clarence as the too-quick fulfillment of King Edward's own death-order. Yet, as the play goes on, Richard seems to lose control of time and frequently asks what time it is. Before the final battle, a clock strikes, the sun fails to rise at its scheduled time, and Richard fears the resultant black sky bodes ill for his fate on the battlefield. Indeed, he is killed by Richmond, which brings the hurtling play to a sudden halt.
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The Clock Symbol Timeline in Richard III

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Clock appears in Richard III. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 4, Scene 2
Power Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Richard finally acknowledges Buckingham by asking him for the time, saying that "like a Jack, thou keep'st the stroke betwixt thy begging and my meditation."... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5