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The Revenger's Tragedy

Unit 3 - A2
by

Nicholas Hargreaves

on 12 September 2012

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Transcript of The Revenger's Tragedy

Set somewhere in Italy. The main character is Vindice (or Vendice) who lives away from the court. The Duke poisoned Vindice's beloved nine years ago because she resisted him. His father has recently died from the Duke's unkindness. Vindice learns from his brother Hippolito that the Duke's eldest son Lussurioso is looking for an unscrupulous servant. He disguises himself with the name Piato and gets the job, which he finds involves seducing for Lussurioso his and Hippolito's chaste sister Castiza (most names are figurative). The Duchess has had three sons by a previous marriage, the Duke has one bastard, Spurio. Her Younger Son has raped the wife of a lord, Antonio; the woman killed herself, the Son is now in prison. The Duchess is wooing Spurio. Vindice is happy to find that Castiza is incorruptible, shocked to find their Mother eager to change her mind (she later repents). He reports to Lussurioso that he overheard the Duchess and Spurio agreeing to sleep together; Lussurioso breaks into the bedroom but find the Duke, his Father, with the Duchess. He is arrested for attempted assassination. The Duchess's two other sons hate Lussurioso; they forge an order for their "Brother's" execution. Only the Duke has forgiven Lussurioso and set him free; the only "Brother" remaining in prison is their Younger Brother, who is duly executed. The Duke asks Vindice to find him a chaste woman he can corrupt. In a secret place, Vindice gets the Duke to kiss a mask containing the skull of his own dead lady. Poison is hidden in its mouth, and as the Duke slowly dies he sees his wife and Spurio together. Lussurioso sacks "Piato" for his mistake and Vindice offers to "take his place" under his own name. His first job is to murder Piato. He and Hippolito dress the Duke's body in Piato's clothes and Piato is assumed to have escaped after killing him. Lussurioso becomes Duke, banishes the Duchess, and throws a party. Vindice and Hippolito play a masque, during which they kill Lussurioso and his three companions. The Duchess's sons with Spurio, arriving with a similar plan, find Lussurioso dead and kill each other over their claims to be Duke. Antonio becomes Duke and tries to understand what has happened. Vindice hopes to be praised by Antonio, assuming that he too wanted revenge, and boastfully tells what they did. Antonio fears for his own life and orders their immediate execution. Plot Summary The Revenger's Tragedy is an English language Jacobean revenge tragedy, in the past attributed to Cyril Tourneur but now usually recognized as the work of Thomas Middleton. It was performed in 1606, and published in 1607. Characters






Love vs. Lust
The theme of love is portrayed vividly throughout The Revenger’s Tragedy. Familial love, for example, is seen in Vindice’s family; brothers Vindice and Hippolito show this love through their quest for revenge. On the other hand, there is a lack of familial love in the Duke’s family; when the Youngest Son is tried for rape, the Duke does not speak up for him when he could have easily saved him. Lust is also evident throughout the play. The main example of this is the Duke’s pursuit of Vindice’s betrothed. The Duke lusted for her, but she would not give in, leading him to kill her thereby igniting Vindice's vendetta. Another example is seen when the Duke’s son Lussurioso asks a disguised Vindice to persuade Castiza, Vindice’s sister, for sex. Lussurioso’s drive for lust with the virgin Castiza is brought about by her beauty.




Adultery
Morality and Sin: During the play, Vindice both kills and indirectly causes the death of half the court due to their lustful and self-destructive actions. Vindice therefore views himself as a vigilante and justifies his actions by the corruption and adultery he sees in the court.
Corruption: Each member of the court possesses his or her own political agenda and is willing to do anything to further his or her own gains, including setting aside moral codes. Even Vindice, who sees himself as working for justice, lies and kills his way through the play.
Misogyny: Much of the misogyny within the play is created by the women, who view themselves as weak and incapable of operating without a man. The men in turn see the women as naturally lustful and deceitful, and cannot bring themselves to trust the female cast characters.
Family: Familial ties are present, such as the somewhat twisted bonds between the Duke’s various sons, Vindice’s fondness for his sister and his initial relationship with his mother. However, as the corruption progresses through the play, it poisons these ties as brother kills brother and Vindice’s mother sells her own daughter for gold. Context
The Revenger's Tragedy belongs to the second generation of English revenge plays. It keeps the basic Senecan design brought to English drama by Thomas Kyd: a young man is driven to avenge an elder's death (in this case it's a lover, Gloriana, instead), which was caused by the villainy of a powerful older man; the avenger schemes to effect his revenge, often by morally questionable means; he finally succeeds in a bloodbath that costs him his own life as well. However, the author's tone and treatment are markedly different from the standard Elizabethan treatment in ways that can be traced to both literary and historical causes. Already by 1606, the enthusiasm that accompanied James I's assumption of the English throne had begun to give way to the beginnings of dissatisfaction with the perception of corruption in his court. The new prominence of tragedies that involved courtly intrigues seems to have been partly influenced by this dissatisfaction.

This trend towards court-based tragedy was contemporary with a change in dramatic tastes toward the satiric and cynical, beginning before the death of Elizabeth I but becoming ascendant in the few years following. The episcopal ban on verse satire in 1599 appears to have impelled some poets to a career in dramaturgy;[2] writers such as John Marston and Thomas Middleton brought to the theaters a lively sense of human frailty and hypocrisy. They found fertile ground in the newly revived children's companies, the Blackfriars Children and Paul's Children;[3] these indoor venues attracted a more sophisticated crowd than that which frequented the theaters in the suburbs.

While The Revenger's Tragedy was apparently performed by an adult company at the Globe Theatre, its bizarre violence and vicious satire mark it as influenced by the dramaturgy of the private playhouses. Past Papers In Section A of the examination, questions are
focused on the interpretation of the plays from
a performance perspective. In addition to their
consideration of the performance and production
elements that are stipulated for Section B of Unit 1
(see 3.1), candidates are required to demonstrate a
creative overview of their chosen play in answer to
questions which may require a director’s, an actor’s
or a designer’s perspective. Candidates are expected
to select appropriate sections from their chosen play
to illustrate their answers. From the spec... AO2 demonstrate knowledge and understanding of practical and theoretical aspects of drama and theatre using appropriate terminology

AO3 interpret plays from different periods and genres The Examination 2 Hours - 100 Marks

Section A - 50 Marks - 1 hour - The Revenger's Tragedy

Section B - 50 Marks - 1 hour - Our Country's Good



Annotated Texts (Units 1 and 3)

• Texts must contain only underlining or highlighting of particular aspects of the text, with brief marginal notes: two or three words for the purpose of location or identification of information.

• Any further notes, either through more extensive annotation or through additional notes on the flyleaf, on introductions to the copy or in any other part of the text, are prohibited. The Duke
Lussurioso - The Duke's son, by a previous marriage
Spurio - the Duke's bastard son
The Duchess
Ambitioso - The Duchess' eldest son
Supervacuo - The Duchess' second son
Junior Brother - The Duchess' youngest son
Antonio - Noble attending the Duke's court
Piero - Noble attending the Duke's court
Nencio - Follower of Lussurioso
Sordido - Follower of Lussurioso

Gratiana - A widow. Mother of below
Castiza - Daughter of Gratiana
Vindice (Piato) - Brother of Castiza
Hippolito (Carlo) - Brother of Castiza
Dondolo - Servant of Gratiana

Nobles, Judges, Gentlemen, A Guard, A Prison-keeper, Officers and servants. Setting - An unnamed court and its surroundings, somewhere in Italy. Vindice (Revenger) The Duke Spurio (Spurious) Lussurioso (Lecherous) Ambitioso (Ambitious) Supervacuo (Superfluous) Junior Brother The Duchess Gratiana (Grace) Castiza (Chastity) Hippolito/Carlo Dondolo Nobles Judges Gentlemen Guard Nencio and Sordido
(Idiot and Sordid) Antonio and Piero Prison Keeper Revenge

Revenge inflicts equally upon the revenger and the antagonist. This is seen as Vindice resorts to compromising the same moral values that were discarded by the nobility. Within the play, he kills, lies frequently, convinces his mother to prostitute his sister to further his revenge, and allows others to become scapegoats for his sins. This theme is expanded past the main character, as each of the cast which seeks revenge ends up dead: Vindice, Lussurioso, Spurio, Ambitioso, Supervacuo and Hippolito.

The play opens with Vindice explicitly establishing his motive behind his revenge, introducing the backbone of the play. In this opening scene, Vindice carries the skull of his murdered lover; this alludes to Hamlet, a play commonly known for its themes in revenge. Aside from Vindice’s revenge, this theme can be seen throughout the play including Spurio’s retribution against his father and the Duchess’s sons against the Duke’s eldest son. Justice

Sinners: The Duke is brought to justice in his death for the crime of poisoning Vindice’s betrothed. The third son found his justice for his crime of rape, even with his brothers attempting to save him.

Law: There are forms of law without justice. Many acts of justice are performed out of the range of legality. Vindice carries out his revenge as a vigilante.

Court: Corruption permeates the court in the play, which obstructs the natural order of justice. The Duke’s opinion overrides the court’s decisions, because he was the one who made the final decision regarding his youngest son’s death.

Vigilantism: Vindice embodies vigilantism. He is aware of this fact as he later admits to his actions of murder.
Rebellion: Each of the Duke’s sons desires the mantle of their father. Thus they go as far as murdering their own brothers to acquire a position of power. Justice. What goes around comes around. Karma. She got what was coming to her. He deserved it. They should have though about that before they did it. Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
Four ex'lent characters. Oh, that marrowless age
Would stuff the hollow bones with damn'd desires,
And stead of heat kindle infernal fires
Within the spendthrift veins of a dry duke,
A parch'd and juiceless luxur! Oh God, one
That has scarce blood enough to live upon!
And he to riot it like a son and heir?
Oh, the thought of that
Turns my abused heartstrings into fret!
Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,
My study's ornament, thou shell of death,
Once the bright face of my betrothed lady,
When life and beauty naturally fill'd out
These ragged imperfections,
When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set
In those unsightly rings: then 'twas a face
So far beyond the artificial shine
Of any woman's bought complexion
That the uprightest man, if such there be,
That sin but seven times a day, broke custom
And made up eight with looking after her.
Oh, she was able to ha' made a usurer's son
Melt all his patrimony in a kiss,
And what his father fifty years told
To have consum'd, and yet his suit been cold!
But oh, accursed palace!
Thee, when thou wert apparel'd in thy flesh,
The old duke poison'd,
Because thy purer part would not consent
Unto his palsy-lust, for old men lustful
Do show like young men angry, eager-violent,
Outbid like their limited performances.
Oh, 'ware an old man hot and vicious!
"Age, as in gold, in lust is covetous."
Vengeance, thou murder's quit-rent, and whereby
Thou shouldst thyself tenant to tragedy,
Oh, keep thy day, hour, minute, I beseech,
For those thou hast determin'd! Hum: whoe'er knew
Murder unpaid? Faith, give revenge her due:
Sh'as kept touch hitherto. Be merry, merry;
Advance thee, O thou terror to fat folks,
To have their costly three-pil'd flesh worn of
As bare as this: for banquets, ease, and laughter
Can make great men, as greatness goes by clay,
But wise men little are more great than they. Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
Four ex'lent characters. You are a family. Two of your family members were knocked down by a drunken politician as he drove home. In court he was sentenced to a suspended sentence of two years for drunk driving.

What will your family do? Your fiance was poisoned and killed after she refused to sleep with another man.

The same man drove your father to death through unkindness.

He is rich. Untouchable by the law. Objective: To begin to understand the themes of Revenge and Justice. Do we ever have the right to act outside the law?

Does anyone ever have the right to take the life of another?

What should someone do if they feel failed by the law?

What is Justice? Justice. Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
Four ex'lent characters. Oh, that marrowless age
Would stuff the hollow bones with damn'd desires,
And stead of heat kindle infernal fires
Within the spendthrift veins of a dry duke,
A parch'd and juiceless luxur! Oh God, one
That has scarce blood enough to live upon!
And he to riot it like a son and heir?
Oh, the thought of that
Turns my abused heartstrings into fret!
Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,
My study's ornament, thou shell of death,
Once the bright face of my betrothed lady,
When life and beauty naturally fill'd out
These ragged imperfections,
When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set
In those unsightly rings: then 'twas a face
So far beyond the artificial shine
Of any woman's bought complexion
That the uprightest man, if such there be,
That sin but seven times a day, broke custom
And made up eight with looking after her.
Oh, she was able to ha' made a usurer's son
Melt all his patrimony in a kiss,
And what his father fifty years told
To have consum'd, and yet his suit been cold!
But oh, accursed palace!
Thee, when thou wert apparel'd in thy flesh,
The old duke poison'd,
Because thy purer part would not consent
Unto his palsy-lust, for old men lustful
Do show like young men angry, eager-violent,
Outbid like their limited performances.
Oh, 'ware an old man hot and vicious!
"Age, as in gold, in lust is covetous."
Vengeance, thou murder's quit-rent, and whereby
Thou shouldst thyself tenant to tragedy,
Oh, keep thy day, hour, minute, I beseech,
For those thou hast determin'd! Hum: whoe'er knew
Murder unpaid? Faith, give revenge her due:
Sh'as kept touch hitherto. Be merry, merry;
Advance thee, O thou terror to fat folks,
To have their costly three-pil'd flesh worn of
As bare as this: for banquets, ease, and laughter
Can make great men, as greatness goes by clay,
But wise men little are more great than they. Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
Four ex'lent characters. Objective: To understand how to use voice to put across clear intentions Justice. Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
Four ex'lent characters. Oh, that marrowless age
Would stuff the hollow bones with damn'd desires,
And stead of heat kindle infernal fires
Within the spendthrift veins of a dry duke,
A parch'd and juiceless luxur! Oh God, one
That has scarce blood enough to live upon!
And he to riot it like a son and heir?
Oh, the thought of that
Turns my abused heartstrings into fret!
Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,
My study's ornament, thou shell of death,
Once the bright face of my betrothed lady,
When life and beauty naturally fill'd out
These ragged imperfections,
When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set
In those unsightly rings: then 'twas a face
So far beyond the artificial shine
Of any woman's bought complexion
That the uprightest man, if such there be,
That sin but seven times a day, broke custom
And made up eight with looking after her.
Oh, she was able to ha' made a usurer's son
Melt all his patrimony in a kiss,
And what his father fifty years told
To have consum'd, and yet his suit been cold!
But oh, accursed palace!
Thee, when thou wert apparel'd in thy flesh,
The old duke poison'd,
Because thy purer part would not consent
Unto his palsy-lust, for old men lustful
Do show like young men angry, eager-violent,
Outbid like their limited performances.
Oh, 'ware an old man hot and vicious!
"Age, as in gold, in lust is covetous."
Vengeance, thou murder's quit-rent, and whereby
Thou shouldst thyself tenant to tragedy,
Oh, keep thy day, hour, minute, I beseech,
For those thou hast determin'd! Hum: whoe'er knew
Murder unpaid? Faith, give revenge her due:
Sh'as kept touch hitherto. Be merry, merry;
Advance thee, O thou terror to fat folks,
To have their costly three-pil'd flesh worn of
As bare as this: for banquets, ease, and laughter
Can make great men, as greatness goes by clay,
But wise men little are more great than they. Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
Four ex'lent characters. Objective: To understand how to use voice to put across clear intentions To understand the requirements of Unit 3 Section A. How would you perform the role of Vindice in two or three sections of The Revenger’s Tragedy in order to convey your ideas to an audience?
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