Revenge Tragedy Criticism: Elizabethan Attitudes Toward Revenge - Essay

R. A. Foakes (essay date 1962)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Foakes, R. A. “John Marston's Fantastical Plays: Antonio and Mellida and Antonio's Revenge.Philological Quarterly 41, No. 1 (January 1962): 229-39.

[In the essay below, Foakes asserts that because Marston wrote plays for a child acting company, his revenge tragedies—Antonio and Mellida and Antonio's Revenge—are deliberate and overt parodies of the genre, in which child actors grotesquely mimic the performances of their adult peers.]

It is immediately apparent from the Induction to Antonio and Mellida that Marston was very consciously writing for children. The actors appear, parts in hand, to discuss the rôles they...

(The entire section is 4765 words.)

Ronald Broude (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Broude, Ronald. “George Chapman's Stoic-Christian Revenger.” Studies in Philology 70 (1973): 51-61.

[In the following essay, Broude maintains that Chapman's characterization of Clermont as a “Stoic-Christian” in Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois enabled the dramatist to create a tragic hero entirely different from other revenge tragedy figures of the period.]

Critics who have recognized in George Chapman's Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois the highly personal synthesis of Roman Stoicism and Renaissance Christianity which preoccupied Chapman for much of his career have nevertheless had difficulty in reconciling this philosophy with the revenge which,...

(The entire section is 4054 words.)

Ronald Broude (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Broude, Ronald. “Revenge and Revenge Tragedy in Renaissance England.” Renaissance Quarterly 28, No. 1 (Spring 1975): 38-58.

[In the essay below, Broude attempts to recover the sixteenth-century understanding and usage of the term “revenge,” arguing that the modern-day interpretation of the term may unduly influence one's perception of the revenge tragedies.]

When we speak of ‘revenge tragedy,’ we are often unaware of the extent to which our approach to these important Renaissance plays has been conditioned by the name we have given them. Elizabethans themselves recognized no distinct dramatic type called revenge play. The term is a modern one, made...

(The entire section is 8418 words.)

Charles A. Hallett and Elaine S. Hallett (essay date 1980)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hallett, Charles A. and Elaine S. Hallett. “The Revenge Experience as Tragedy.” In The Revenger's Madness: A Study of Revenge Tragedy Motifs, pp. 101-27. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980.

[In the following essay, the Halletts maintain that the Elizabethan dramatists—led by Thomas Kyd—employed the revenge tragedy motif in their plays to symbolize late sixteenth-century England as a civilization in crisis.]

And know ye all (though far from all your aims,
Yet worth them all, and all men's endless studies)
That in this one thing, all the discipline
Of manners and of manhood is contain'd;
A man to join himself with th'Universe
In his main sway, and...

(The entire section is 10695 words.)

Darryll Grantley (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Grantley, Darryll. “Masques and Murderers: Dramatic Method and Ideology in Revenge Tragedy and the Court Masque.” In Jacobean Poetry and Prose: Rhetoric, Representation and the Popular Imagination, edited by Clive Bloom, pp. 194-212. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

[In the essay below, Grantley discusses how Jacobean playwrights subtly projected their own ideological principles onto both aristocratic and popular audiences through the dramatic media of the court masque and the revenge tragedy, or a combination of the two theatrical forms.]

Jacobean revenge tragedy, with its turbulent, bloody and uncertain topos, might be thought to have little...

(The entire section is 7674 words.)