What is the story of "The Spanish Tragedy"?

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julierunacres eNotes educator| Certified Educator
'The Spanish Tragedy' is a revenge tragedy.

The Ghost of a Spanish nobleman, Andrea, reveals he was killed in battle by Portuguese prince Balthazar, and buried by his friend, Horatio. He seeks revenge, to be carried out by his former lover, Bel-Imperia.

Balthazar is captured by Horatio, son of Hieronimo. Bel-Imperia falls in love with Horatio, only to find that Balthazar is in love with her.
Bel-Imperia and Horatio meet in secret, but she is betrayed by her servant, Pedringano, to her brother, Lorenzo, and Balthazar. Horatio is murdered and Bel-Imperia taken away.

Hieronimo finds his son’s body and vows revenge. He receives a letter
from Bel-Imperia revealing the identity of the killers but suspects it is a trick.

Lorenzo tries to cover his tracks by disposing of witnesses, using Pedringano. Hieronimo realises Lorenzo’s guilt and the truth of the letter, but his struggle to obtain justice and the breakdown of his wife, Isabella, make him go mad. Bel-Imperia’s betrothal to Balthazar is announced.

Hieronimo and Lorenzo seem reconciled, but secretly he and Bel-Imperia vow to avenge Horatio’s death. After Isabella’s suicide, Hieronimo arranges a play, in which the characters take part. Hieronimo stabs Lorenzo, Balthazar and Bel-Imperia, explains the reason for the killings, bites out his tongue so he won’t reveal more and kills himself.

Andrea's ghost returns to the underworld to receive his friends and see the murderers punished.

Read the study guide:
The Spanish Tragedy

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