September 26, 2011 Eng 534
The Madness of Revenge in The Spanish Tragedy
In Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy*, Hieronimo is consumed with obtaining revenge for the unjust death of his son, Horatio. Revenge plays a vital role in this exemplar revenge tragedy, not just as a motivator for those who are unable to obtain justice but in the guise as a main character and companion to Don Andrea. Don Andrea is obstinate in being certain that his death is avenged as Revenge verbalizes the following: “Be still, Andrea, ere we go from hence. / I’ll turn their friendship into fell despite, / Their love to mortal hate, their day to night, / Their hope into despair, their peace to war, / Their joys to pain, their bliss to misery (1.10.5-9). The character of Revenge has set in motion the unfolding events as if Revenge has predestined the players in the tragedy to their doom. In order to achieve that end, madness will consume Balthazar, Hieronimo and even Isabella. Balthazar becomes mad in his desire to possess Bel-Imperia. He is controlled by his lust for her and states that “…in her heart set him where I should stand” (2.2.129). Balthazar’s madness drives him to commit a senseless murder which will dictate the actions of Hieronimo for the duration of the play. Horatio is murdered because he is an obstacle which prevents Balthazar from acquiring Bel-Imperia, against her will. The letter which she writes in her own blood is foreshadowing the blood that will be spilt throughout the play as Balthazar slaughters more victims to conceal his actions. Consequently, Hieronimo’s madness fluctuates between obtaining justice and revenge for the death of Horatio: “I will go plain me to my Lord the King, / And cry aloud for justice through the court” (3.7.71-72). Hieronimo attempts to achieve justice through the standard channels but is disappointed. The usual conduit of the law has weakened and subsequently, Hieronimo falls back on the friend of...
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