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The Use of Symbolism and Imagery in Tourneur's The Revenger’s Tragedy

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The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur, was written using symbolism and imagery, which comes from the protagonist (The revenger) Vindice. A main trait of a tragedy is that there will be a downfall of a character within the play, in this case from the opening scene the protagonist, Vindice, is the clear culprit for an emotional meltdown and a tragedy all of his own.

These themes of symbolism and imagery in The Revenger’s tragedy are a connection between what is right and wrong. In the first character whom is introduced into the play and is of a high social background, we know this because throughout the soliloquy Vindice speaks using Iambic pentameter (blank verse) however when the character Vindice is in disguise he speaks in prose this shows to the audience that he is not himself. The first sign of symbolism in the play is in the first soliloquy, ‘[holding a skull; he watches as]...’ this skull is a symbol of the loss of his lover Gloriana. Also an example symbolic language from Vindice when using black verse is the reference to the skull, because the skull is seen as an empty ‘shell of death’ and a picture of Gloriana, it also acts as a ornament for the audience to see while he reconstructs her ‘fill’d out’ its hollow bareness of her face and the dazzling eyes that once decorated its ‘unsightly rings’.

The skull of Gloriana could also symbolise the fate of Vindice, the skull acts as a constant reminder of death and it seems to be following him round where ever he goes. There is an inevitable link between the death of his ‘betrothed lady’ and the revenge he seeks upon the royal family. He is trying to set a balance by taking one life because the life of Gloriana was taken, but trying to fix a balance creates Vindice’s in...

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...tement says that this family believe that raping women is acceptable because they believe that every woman would enjoy sec and he has no remorse for raping Lord Antonio’s wife. This makes the act of revenge build for Vindice because he is not only killing the Duke for one person but for two women whom were treated wrongly by the duke or his family in this case the duke’s son.

The downward spiral of the character Vindice, shows a large scope of emotion, starting with a quite normal grieving process for his partner, to seeking his revenge on the Duke, this revenge soon spiralling out of his control when he decides to get revenge on the whole of the royal family because the Dukes son raped Lord Antonio’s wife. Therefore the use of symbolism and imagery works well and the play follows an effective structure in which the tragedy becomes the tragedy of Vindice alone.
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