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The Spanish Tragedy de Thomas Kyd
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The Spanish Tragedy (original: 1585; edição: 2005)

de Thomas Kyd (Autor)

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713824,256 (3.49)23
The Spanish Tragedy was well known to sixteenth-century audiences, and its central elements--a play-within-a-play and a ghost bent on revenge--are widely believed to have influenced Shakespeare's Hamlet. This volume includes a generous selection of supporting materials, among them Kyd's likely sources (Virgil, Jacques Yver, and the anonymous "The Earl of Leicester Betrays His Own Servant"), Thomas Nashe's satiric criticism of Kyd, Michel de Montaigne and Francis Bacon on revenge, and "The Ballad of The Spanish Tragedy," which suggests the play's initial reception. "Criticism" is thematically organized to provide readers with a clear sense of the play's major themes. Contributors include Michael Hattaway, Jonas A. Barish, Donna B. Hamilton, G. K. Hunter, Lorna Hutson, Molly Smith, J. R. Mulryne, T. McAlindon, and Andrew Sofer. -- Publisher website.… (mais)
Membro:Sareene
Título:The Spanish Tragedy
Autores:Thomas Kyd (Autor)
Informação:Dodo Press (2005), 104 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:***
Etiquetas:reading-for-school

Detalhes da Obra

The Spanish Tragedy de Thomas Kyd (1585)

  1. 00
    Hamlet [Norton Critical Edition] de William Shakespeare (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Elizabethan dramas featuring murder, ghosts, a character appearing mad with grief, and revenge plots taking advantage of a play within the plays
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Many claims have been made about this play written for the Elizabethan theatre:
It contains the first Machiavellian Villain,
it contains the first play within a play,
It is the first modern revenge tragedy
The first play that can be considered as an art form
The first play to represent human causality skilfully
However we cannot be certain when it was written or when it was first performed. A consensus seems to be around the year 1587, but I would not be surprised if it was a year or two later than that. The Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588 and although Spain remained a threat to England this victory may have given Kyd the impetus to launch a play that depicts the fall of the Spanish Royal family. Certainly there is no doubt about its popularity with the theatre going public, because since its appearance in the list of plays performed starting in 1592, there were 29 performances recorded. We are talking of a play probably performed before Shakespeare’s successes, but continuing well into the next century and up to the closure of the theatres.

It is not difficult to see why so many claims have been made for The Spanish Tragedy because it feels to me like a watershed. On one side is the early Elizabethan theatre of courtly performances and rigid acceptance of the style of classical theatre and the other side being a step towards characterisation and drama that would appeal to all levels of Elizabethan society and point the way to modern theatre. It has been revived in modern times notably by Londons National Theatre in 1982 and then by the Royal Shakespeare company in 1997. The play is steeped in the language of rhetoric with much of it appearing to be versed in antique styles of expression, so there are awkward passages where two sides of an argument are rehearsed followed by a conclusion of sorts, which bears little relation to everyday speech, but the edges are starting to get blurred and a more natural voice is starting to come through. The play still wears its classical garb having something like a Greek chorus providing commentary, but here it is reduced to a ghost (Andrea) accompanied by the allegorical figure of Revenge and they are not present throughout the play and their thoughts are more like a conversation between the two of them. There are still some latin phrases interjected and at one point Hieronimo sings a dirge in latin in commiseration to his murdered son.

The play starts with a long speech by the ghost of Andrea setting the scene and describing his journey through the underworld and the following scene contains a report from the general of the Spanish forces to his king of the battle with the Portugueses army and so in typical fashion all of the action has taken place off stage. A sort of pageant in front of the king of the victorious army follows and up until this point there is little to distinguish the play from previous efforts. Then things get more interesting; Lorenzo starts scheming with Balthazar, there is a charming love scene between Bel-imperia and Horatio before Horatio is viciously murdered on stage, by the schemers before the screams of Bel-imperia awaken Hieronimo who is left to mourn the butchered body of his son. Real drama with good use of the spaces on stage and from this moment on there is action aplenty and the body count rises; the play moves steadily towards its climax, the characters of Hieronimo, Isabella and Lorenzo emerge with soliloquies that enable the audience to glimpse their thoughts and feelings. There are more onstage murders and suicides and possibly the first black comedy scene where Pedringano jokes with the hangman believing that his pardon is contained in the box held aloft by a Page. The climax is dramatic leaving a pile of bodies onstage with Andrea and Revenge having the last word:

“Then haste we down to meet thy friends and foes,
To place thy friends in ease, the rest in woes.
For here, though death hath end their misery,
I’ll there begin their endless tragedy”


The plot is fairly complex with action taking place in the courts of both the Spanish and Portuguese Royal families. Andrea a Spanish gentleman and lover of Bel-imperia has been killed in the wars against Portugal, after a journey through the underworld his ghost returns to earth with Revenge to seek retribution. Balthazar; the son of the King of Portugal has been captured by Lorenzo of the Spanish Royal family and Horatio the son of Hieronimo; Knight Marshall and chief Justice of Spain. After the death of Andrea Bel-imperia appears to have fallen in love with Horatio, but Lorenzo persuades Balthazar that they must kill Horatio in order that Balthazar can woo the beautiful Bel-imperia. Lorenzo schemes and using Pedringano the servant of Bel-Imperia as a fall guy, murders Horatio leaving Hieronimo to mourn over the death of his precious son. Hieronimo seeks revenge, but the Royal family close ranks. Lorenzo arranges the deaths of Pedringano and Seberine; Balthazars servant to cover his tracks. Hieronimo is almost driven insane, but his sense of justice prevails and when he uncovers the identity of the murderers, he enlists the help of Bel-imperia to stage his revenge by way of a play put on in front of the two Royal houses who have got together to conclude a peace treaty and the marriage of Bel-imperia to Balthazar.

The play was popular because it would have appealed to the groundlings who paid their penny’s to stand in the pit. They would have enjoyed the drama of the onstage murders and the black comedy of the hanging scenes, being used to the frequent public executions that took place in London. They would have enjoyed the variety with the plays masques, pageants, dumb shows and the drama of the play within the play. They would also be able to appreciate the more sophisticated entertainment provided for the courtiers as allusions to classical references tended to peter out as the drama took over. They might have been able to identify with the sorrows and frustration of Hieronimo whose fight for justice had to overcome the politics of the Royal family and they would have been aware as to how topical it all was with the chance to express their pride and jingoism at the fall of the Spanish Royal family. There was also plenty to enjoy for the more educated playgoer; the constant dichotomy of the themes of justice and revenge, the many mirror images of the scenes in Portugal and Spain, the ironical nature of much of drama as the audience with its all seeing eye would always know more than the characters on stage, who all seem to labour under incomprehension or false knowledge.

Reading the text of the play (with some later additions) in the Norton Critical Edition enabled me to appreciate the structure and complexity of the drama. There is much to admire although the prose never really hits the heights of Christopher Marlowe’s blank verse. The prose does however enable some characterisation to shine through and for the reader to appreciate other themes running through the play like the heedless destruction of good local governance by global political ambition. The reader might also pause for thought on the character and actions of Bel-imperia who has to fight the conventions of dynastic political marriages, taking lovers from outside the nobility, and emerging as a sort of femme fatal. The critical essays at the back of the Norton edition are interesting and led me back to re-read the text of the play. Unfortunately there is no video or youtube production of the full play available and so I will have to rest with my own imaginary pictures of how the final scene of the play would be staged - all those dead bodies.

This play could be described as the first of the really big hitters of the Elizabethan theatre and so there is much critical commentary to be read. I thoroughly enjoyed my week spent with this play and so five stars. ( )
2 vote baswood | Apr 27, 2019 |
It's interesting to read this a week before reading Hamlet for class. Kyd wrote the ultimate revenge play that must have influenced Shakespeare so much. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
I just finished [The Spanish tragedy] and I think so far it is the mother of revenge plays. Kyd by this play sat the characteristics of the tragic drama, Other contemporary playwrights followed his theatrical convictions. And could not draw their own line in drama, some new themes, techniques as well, were highly repeated by other Elizabethan playwrights. Shakespeare for instance borrowed various aspects in his play [Hamlet] even (the mouse trap) a motif highly recurrent in Shakespearean tragedies was firstly determined by [[kyd]] when Hieronimo managed to avenge his son (Horatio) .
  Eman.M.Awad | Jul 29, 2015 |
5
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
This is--literally--the mother of all English revenge plays. It was such a spectacular hit in London in the 1580s that it likely inspired the young Shakespeare to write Titus Andronicus in an effort to outdo Kyd's talent for bringing violence and the grotesque onstage. I just finished the play with my students, and they were quick to pick up on what Shakespeare had also borrowed for Hamlet: the ghost of a wrongfully murdered man walking the earth; a righteous revenger who doesn't trust the information he is given and goes to great lengths to prove it true before taking action--including writing a play-within-a play; the revenger pretending to be mad (or IS he pretending?) while a woman close to him most certainly goes mad from grief; and, of course, a pile of bodies onstage in the final scene. (Kyd beats Shakespeare; final score 6 to 4 in the last scene, and the total body count comparison is 11 to 9.)

Kyd adds a double dose of blood, gore and spectacle to the play. First, he gives us an onstage audience--a kind of chorus--who comment on events between acts. These are the ghost of Andrea, a soldier dishonorably slain in battle, accompanied by Revenge; their purpose is to see justice served to his murderer, Balthazar. When Andrea's friend Horatio (yes, something else for Shakespeare to borrow) reveals the details of his demise to his sweetheart, Bel-imperia, she vows revenge against Balthazar, who has fallen in love with her--and promptly decides that she will love Horatio for his loyalty to Andrea. But in the midst of a rendezvous, Horatio is overtaken by his rival and a company of followers, hanged in the arbor, and stabbed multiple times. Bel-imperia calls for help but is whisked away and locked up. Hieronimo, Horatio's father, responds to the call, only to find the body of his son. This murder--and this body--become the focal points of the play. Hieronimo dips a handkerchief in his son's blood and carries it next to his heart, periodically bringing it out to spur his revenge; and he vows that Horatio shall remain unburied until justice is served.

As we're propelled through Act 3, more chaos erupts. I'll spare you the details, in case you're inspired to read the play. In short: suicide threats, people going mad, betrayal and murder among the murderers, a large dose of gallows humor, an execution, a suicide . . . all leading up to Act 4, in which Bel-imperia and Hieronimo join forces to enact their revenge through a play that is supposed to celebrate the peace treaty between Portugal and Spain and the engagement of Balthazar and Bel-imperia. And the body count is on the rise, Horatio's body arriving just in time for the encore.

It was a little hard to read my students' reactions to the play (they are always a bit reticent for the first few weeks); I'll know more when I read their written responses over the weekend. But I enjoyed reading the play again after many years, especially as I'm teaching Titus Andronicus in another class. Kyd was certainly less subtle than Shakespeare, but he knew his way around the stage and clearly had his finger on the pulse of the groundlings. I'd love to see The Spanish Tragedy in performance some day. ( )
5 vote Cariola | Sep 6, 2013 |
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Thomas Kydautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Edwards, PhilipEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Mulryne, J.R.Editorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Neill, MichaelEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Prouty, Charles T.Editorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
ROSS, T WEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Schick, J.Editorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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When this eternal substance of my soul
Did live imprisoned in my wanton flesh,
Each in their function serving other's need,
I was a courtier in the Spanish court.
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The Spanish Tragedy was well known to sixteenth-century audiences, and its central elements--a play-within-a-play and a ghost bent on revenge--are widely believed to have influenced Shakespeare's Hamlet. This volume includes a generous selection of supporting materials, among them Kyd's likely sources (Virgil, Jacques Yver, and the anonymous "The Earl of Leicester Betrays His Own Servant"), Thomas Nashe's satiric criticism of Kyd, Michel de Montaigne and Francis Bacon on revenge, and "The Ballad of The Spanish Tragedy," which suggests the play's initial reception. "Criticism" is thematically organized to provide readers with a clear sense of the play's major themes. Contributors include Michael Hattaway, Jonas A. Barish, Donna B. Hamilton, G. K. Hunter, Lorna Hutson, Molly Smith, J. R. Mulryne, T. McAlindon, and Andrew Sofer. -- Publisher website.

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822.3 — Literature English English drama Elizabethan 1558-1625

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