Analysis of Hieronimo in The Spanish Tragedy

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Hieronimo is a symbol for the authority of law within The Spanish Tragedy. From his soliloquy in act III scene II, one can see Hieronimo’s ambiguity in deciding whether to pursue either justice or revenge. It could be argued that Hieronimo’s actions and concerns change throughout the course of the play by the wills of others and not his own desires; thus representing the failed authority of the law. This can be shown by analysing Hieronimo, Bel-imperia, the Gods, Lorenzo and the Law.

Hieronimo’s soliloquy in act III scene II is a focal point within The Spanish Tragedy as it is the awakening of Hieronimo’s awareness of Lorenzo’s villainy. The speech’s motives are deliberately ambiguous to suggest the confused state of Hieronimo’s mind.

O eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears;

O life, no life, but lively form of death;

O world, no world, but mass of public wrongs,

Confused and filled with murder and misdeeds;

O sacred heavens! if this unhallowed deed,

If this inhuman and barbarous attempt,

If this incomparable murder thus

Of mine, but now no more my son,

Shall unrevealed and unrevenged pass,

How shouId we term your dealings to be just,

If you unjustly deal with those that in your justice trust?

Kyd’s use of repetition alludes to Hieronimo’s mental state. The use of the exclamatory ‘O’ suggests that Hieronimo is calling aloud with emotional fervour suggesting that his Son’s death has had a strong psychological impact. Ambiguity is created with the repetition of Hieronimo's self doubt, ‘O’ is contrasted with ‘No’ and alludes to an ego-centric argument. Moreover, Kyd uses abstract imagery to describe commonplace objects. For example, the emotional temperament of Hieronimo can be seen in the abst...

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... so that Andreas own needs could be satisfied. In this case, Hieronimo appears little more than a pawn in some larger arc of Divine justice. However, it can be argued that Revenge and Hieronimo are very similar character; Kline writes that ‘Hieronimo acts as the agent and orchestrator of the play-within-a play in the same way that Revenge controls the events of the main plot’. Firstly this suggests that both characters are controlling elements of the story. Revenge is seen as the divine manipulator whilst Hieronimo becomes an author to create his revenge. However this also suggests Revenge is guiding Hieronimo, thus implying that Revenge controls the play and the play within a play. Moreover, this could be Kyd making social commentary over the role of religion within the law and courts and how the ecclesiastical court could influence the path of justice.

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