Parody or Tragedy?: The Role of Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy College

A revenge tragedy is a genre of play, popularized in the seventeenth century, in which the protagonist pursues revenge for real or perceived abuses. Thee tragedies typically employ a number of the same conventions, such as escalating causes for revenge, interrupted trials, botched executions, and tragic endings. Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy is a curious example of this type of play, ultimately reading as a pastiche of a variety of other revenge tragedies. Through employing comedy and exaggerating conventions typically found in revenge tragedies such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Middleton effectively parodies this genre in his play, The Revenger’s Tragedy.

In many revenge tragedies, Shakespeare’s Hamlet included, the thought of revenge emerges from a murder. Conventionally, character one kills character two, and character three seeks revenge on character one for this murder. In Hamlet, there are only two clear revenge plots. The first commences when Hamlet discovers that his uncle, Claudius, murdered his father, King Hamlet of Denmark. Early on in the play, the ghost of King Hamlet appears in front of Hamlet and states, “If thou didst ever thy dear father love - / … / Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,” (1.5.25)...

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