Last Updated on August 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 255
Context: Through the machinations of his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard the Third), George, Duke of Clarence, is imprisoned in the Tower of London. The Duke of Gloucester has persuaded King Edward the Fourth, brother to the two dukes, that a man whose name begins with "G" will murder the king's two sons. As Gloucester expected, the suspicion has landed upon George, Duke of Clarence. In prison the duke has a terrible dream, in which he sees himself thrown overboard from a ship by his brother Richard. As the nightmare continues, the duke dreams that he crosses the River Styx into Hell, where the first condemned soul he meets is that of his father-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, whom Clarence had deserted in the struggle for the kingdom in the Wars of the Roses, recently ended. After Warwick's ghost passes by, the ghost of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry the Sixth, comes to add his curse, in return for the wounds given him at Tewkesbury by Clarence. The Duke of Clarence is relating his dream to his keeper at the Tower of London.
. . . my dream was lengthen'd after life. O, then began the tempest to my soul.
I pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that sour ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick,
Who spake aloud, what scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?
And so he vanished.