Revenge Tragedy Criticism: Reminders And Remembrance - Essay

Charles A. Hallett (essay date 1977)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hallett, Charles A. “Andrea, Andrugio, and King Hamlet: The Ghost as Spirit of Revenge.” Philological Quarterly 56, No. 1 (Winter 1977): 43-64.

[In the essay below, Hallett examines the significance of the ghosts in The Spanish Tragedy, Antonio's Revenge, and Hamlet, arguing that, more than just a stage device, the apparition represents “the embodiment of the impulse for revenge, [and] its demands are unambiguous, immoderate, and recognize no authority but its own.”]

The dramatists who wrote revenge tragedy recognized what others of their contemporaries understood, that the passion of revenge had a definite course and a predictable end....

(The entire section is 9253 words.)

Henry E. Jacobs (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jacobs, Henry E. “Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy, and the Ideology of the Memento Mori. Shakespeare Studies 21 (1993): 98-108.

[In the following essay, Jacobs argues that, unlike his contemporaries who codified their skepticism of religious orthodoxy in the memento mori tradition in their plays, Shakespeare actually remained true to the medieval tradition and to orthodoxy in his revenge plays.]

The severed hand, the skull beneath the skin, the blood-soaked handkerchief, and other such gruesome relics of human carnage show up repeatedly on the English stage between 1585 and 1640 in Renaissance revenge tragedy.1 The memento mori of...

(The entire section is 4788 words.)

John Kerrigan (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kerrigan, John. “‘Remember Me!’: Horestes, Hieronimo, and Hamlet.” In Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon, pp. 170-192. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[In the essay below, Kerrigan discusses the ambiguous role that remembrance plays in Elizabethan revenge tragedies—especially The Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet—tracing this motif to the classical Greek dramatic theme of introspection.]

At the start of The Libation Bearers, Orestes stands beside his father's tomb, thinking about the past. Apparently sunk in passive grief, he offers Agamemnon a lock of hair and laments that he was not in Argos to mourn at his funeral. Then,...

(The entire section is 9028 words.)