(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Don Andrea, a Spanish nobleman, has been killed in battle with the Portuguese. After his soul arrives in the underworld, Pluto sends it and the Spirit of Revenge back to the world of the living to learn what happened after Don Andrea’s death. At the Spanish court, Don Andrea’s ghost hears that the Portuguese have been defeated in war and that Balthazar, prince of Portugal, has been taken prisoner. Balthazar, Don Andrea learns, is the man who killed him. A quarrel has developed between Lorenzo and Horatio, each claiming the honor of capturing Balthazar.

Meanwhile, at the Portuguese court, Villuppo tells the viceroy that his son, Balthazar, is dead, having been killed by the traitorous Alexandro. Alexandro is then sentenced to death.

Balthazar, while a prisoner, falls in love with Bel-Imperia, as does Horatio. Bel-Imperia, who had been the fiancé of the slain Don Andrea, falls in love with Horatio. Plans are proposed for a treaty of peace between Spain and Portugal. These events are all distasteful to Don Andrea’s ghost. He is comforted, however, by the Spirit of Revenge’s promise that grim fate will overtake all concerned.

Balthazar, aided by Lorenzo, plans to win the love of Bel-Imperia. Lorenzo sends a servant to spy on Bel-Imperia and to discover whom she loves. When the servant returns to tell his master that Bel-Imperia is in love with Horatio, Lorenzo and Balthazar plot Horatio’s death.

The king of Spain plans to make diplomatic use of Bel-Imperia, who is his niece, by marrying her to the Portuguese prince, Balthazar, thus cementing the friendship of the two countries. The king warns her that she must do as he commands. One night, when Bel-Imperia and Horatio meet in the garden, Horatio is set upon by Balthazar and Lorenzo; they kill Horatio by hanging and then take Bel-Imperia away. When Horatio’s body is discovered, Hieronimo, Horatio’s father, goes mad, as does his wife. Seeing these events, Don Andrea’s ghost becomes even more bitter, but the Spirit of Revenge tells him to be patient.

The ambassador to Spain, returning to the Portuguese court, arrives in time to prevent the death of Alexandro, because the ambassador brings word that Balthazar still lives. Villuppo, who had plotted Alexandro’s death in the hope that he could gain advancement from it, is sentenced...

(The entire section is 959 words.)