Tragedy Essay Research Paper

Tragedy Essay, Research Paper

The Revenger?s Tragedy

Biography of author(s)

Cyril Tourneur

?Born 1575

?Little known about Tourneur

?Much of his career was spent in military or diplomatic service.

?TheRevenger?s Tragedy was published in 1607, but not ascribed to Tourneur until 1656, some

50 years after his death.

?Tourneur was ascribed three other plays, but two of them were lost. His literary reputation lies

solely on The Revenger?s Tragedy.

?In 1613 Tourneur was a government courier and a campaign soldier in 1614.

?In 1625 Tourneur accompanied Sir Edward on a naval expedition against Spain. The expedition

failed and Sir Edward?s flagship, The Royal Anna, was badly damaged with many of the crew

killed or wounded, among them Tourneur. The ship reached port in Kinsdale, Ireland, where

Tourneur was put ashore.

?February 28, 1625 Cyril Tourneur died.

Thomas Middleton

?Born 1580 in London.

?Middleton began writing for the stage in the early 1600’s.

?His plays that exist today were for the most part written in collaboration with Thomas Dekker,

Michael Drayton, John Webster, and William Rowley.

?His two most powerful plays were The Changeling (1621), and Women Beware Women.

?In 1624 A Game at Chesse was closed after nine performances because of its anti-Spanish


?Middleton was city chronologer of London from 1620-1625(?).

?The Revenger?s Tragedy was ascribed to Tourneur and believed to be solely his until the late

nineteenth century when Middleton was proposed as the author. Since then, there has been

debate over the authorship of the play with Middleton seeming the most likely candidate

supported by recent statistical analysis.

Comparisons with Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy

? Like Hamlet, The Revenger?s Tragedy focuses on the use of the hero musing upon a skull.

? Unlike Hamlet, Vindice appears to resist undergoing any sort of change; he is a static


? Unlike Hamlet, The Revenger?s Tragedy deliberately avoids psychological intricacy.

There are flat, extravagant characters with allegorical names as in morality plays.

? In political terms, The Revenger?s Tragedy is more conservative than The Spanish


? Unlike The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger?s Tragedy does not suggest a disruptive

alliance between male subordinates and female aristocrats, but depicts a contest among the

men over possession of the women. ?Wives are but made to go to bed and feed?(I.I).

? The theatrical technique of The Revenger?s Tragedy is more original than that of The

Spanish Tragedy.

? In both The Spanish Tragedy and The Revenger?s Tragedy successful revenge is

connected with a moment of revelation.

? Unlike Hamlet, both The Spanish Tragedy and The Revenger?s Tragedy are deeply


? Unlike Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger?s Tragedy lacks the usual

revenge-tragedy ghost.

? Unlike Hamlet, which is set in Denmark, The Spanish Tragedy and The Revenger?s

Tragedy are both set in inaccurate or fictional locations.

Major Themes or Ideas Found in The Revenger?s Tragedy

? Vindice derives his identity and purpose from his place at head of the family, and resists

anything that disrupts kinship system. i.e. adultery, rape, incest, and prostitution.

? The Revenger?s Tragedy is obsessed with the possibility of whoredom. ?That woman is

all male, whom none can enter?(2.I).

? In The Revenger?s Tragedy, specific male privileges-supervision of daughters and sisters,

access to wives and finacees?become to represent political rights in general. i.e. It is

Vindice?s right which reinforces his passion.

? All the sexually experienced women in The Revenger?s Tragedy are polluted in one way or


? The Revenger?s Tragedy emphasizes the artificiality, even the silliness, of many of the

familiar procedures of English revenge tragedy.

? The Revenger?s Tragedy questions the logic of revenge-play conventions even while

seeming to employ them.

Act III, scene V

? This scene involves murder, incest, and deception?all of which are driving forces in this


? This scene contains many humorous and sarcastic moments that may not be evident when

merely read.

? Watching actions on-stage has significantly different reaction upon reader/audience.

? While readers may overlook evil actions of characters when play is read, the audience is

forced to watch their evil when the play is performed on-stage.


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