The Revenger's Tragedy


The Revenger’s Tragedy is influenced by Seneca and Medieval theatre. It is written over 5 acts[8] and opens with a monologue that looks back at previous events and anticipates future events. This monologue is spoken by Vindice who says he will take revenge and explains the corruption in court. It uses onomastic rhetoric in Act 3, scene 5 which is where characters play upon their own names, a trait considered to be Senecan.[9] The verbal violence is seen as Senecan, with Vindice in Act 2, scene 1, calling out against heaven: Why does not heaven turn black or with a frown/ Undo the world?

The play also adapts Senecan attributes in ways such as with the character of Vindice. At the end of the play he is a satisfied revenger, which is typically Senecan. However, he is punished for his revenge, unlike the characters in Seneca’s Medea and Thyestes.[10] In another adaptation of Seneca, there is a strong element of metatheatricality as the play makes references to itself as a tragedy. For example, in Act 4, scene 2: Vindice: Is there no thunder left, or is’t kept up/ In stock for heavier vengeance [Thunder] There it goes!

The medieval qualities in the play are described by Lawrence J Ross as "the contrasts of eternity and time, the fusion of satirically realistic detail with moral abstraction, the emphatic condemnation of luxury, avarice and superfluity, and the lashing of judges, lawyers, usurers and women”.[11] To personify Revenge is seen as a Medieval characteristic[12] and although The Revenger’s Tragedy does not personify this trait with a character, it is mentioned in the opening monologue with a capital, thereby giving it more weight than a regular noun.

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