Thwarted love, ghosts, murder and intricate subplots are hallmarks of the dramatic revenge plays that thrilled audiences in the late 16th century. The first exponent of the genre is widely believed to have been Thomas Kyd, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, whose work enjoyed considerable success on the London stage before being lost for nearly two centuries. This essay examines Kyd’s 1592 play, The Spanish Tragedy, focusing on the core themes of revenge and the problems of justice. The notion of revenge, as a desire for retribution, versus justice, which brings with it the burden of a legal, moral, or divine authority, is carefully explored within the context of Renaissance thought. These recurring themes are then considered from the perspective of individual characters within the play, focusing on Don Andrea, Hieronimo and Bel-imperia. The article also reflects on the significance of Kyd’s use of language and the framing devices of the various narratives within the play.
Keywords: Kyd, Renaissance, Revenge Play, Justice, Drama.
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