Revenge in Hamlet and The Revenger's Tragedy Essay

Revenge in Hamlet and The Revenger's Tragedy Essay

Length: 3225 words (9.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

    In this study of revenge and revengers in two Elizabethan revenge tragedies the two plays I shall look at are Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, and The Revenger's Tragedy, by Thomas Middleton. I shall look first at the playwrights' handling of the characters of the revengers, and then at the treatment of the revengers by other characters in the plays.

Although having similarities in their underlying themes, and in their adherence to conventions, these two plays present contrasting pictures of the figure of the revenger; Hamlet offering a far more complex treatment of its main character, and The Revenger's Tragedy appearing, in comparison, limited by the author's social message, and lacking in realistic characterisation.

Hamlet and Vindice, the two revengers, have in common their tasks as revengers, but they have very different methods of dealing with situations, modes of thought, and instinctual behaviour. Middleton's Vindice is largely an allegorical character; his name and the names of other characters in The Revenger's Tragedy (e.g. Spurio, Ambitioso) are derived from Medieval morality plays; names which suggest the quality of near-farcical exaggeration which is a feature of The Revenger's Tragedy from the opening scene's remarkable similarity to a procession of the Seven Deadly Sins, to Vindice's simplistic association of lust with Judas and the Devil.

Hamlet, in contrast, is an individual with depth, who suffers from insecurity, and a sense of absurdity. As we see him at the beginning of the play he is suffering from melancholy, not only from the death of his father, but also from "the moral shock of the sudden ghostly disclosure of his mother's true nature" (Bradley). Hamlet is psychologically real, and in my view...


... middle of paper ...


...tentions in the face of a whimsical providence.




Works Cited

Bradley, A. C., John Russell. Brown, and A. C. Bradley. A.C. Bradley on Shakespeare's Tragedies: A Concise Edition and Reassessment. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print.

Garber, Marjorie B. Profiling Shakespeare. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Ian Johnston. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life. Arlington, VA: Richer Resources Publications, 2010. Print.

Erlich, Avi. Hamlet's Absent Father. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1977. Print.

Middleton, Thomas. “The Revenger’s Tragedy.” 1607. Five Revenge Tragedies. Ed. Emma Smith. London: Penguin Classics, 2012. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1994.

Wilson, J. Dover "What Happens in Hamlet" New York: Cambridge University Press, 1959

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Thematic Concepts of Women and Justice in "The Revenger's Tragedy" Essay

- The use of thematic concepts such as women and justice within the play The Revenger’s Tragedy represents the social and literary context of England in the early 1600’s. In this way, it also ‘holds the mirror up to nature’ (Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii). The playwright, Tourneur , has used features and devices within the text to aid the representation of these themes, and apply them to its social and literary context. The Revenger’s Tragedy was written during the Elizabethan Era, specifically the Jacobean Period....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1763 words (5 pages)

The Revenger's Tragedy Essay example

- The Revenger's Tragedy What type of tragedy is this. A tragedy, by definition, is a 'disastrous, distressing and very sad event'. The Revenger's Tragedy, however, does not display all of these characteristics. It is macabre and grotesque and delights in gory descriptions of blood, violence, death and murder, but it is not a sad story. It is more likely to evoke feelings of disbelief and incredulity at the plot than to cause its audience to feel any kind of sadness. In all, there are thirteen revenge actions, five without motivation, and it seems that the tragedian's aim was to use revenge as a dramatic device to arouse revulsion rather than sadness at the waste...   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
814 words (2.3 pages)

Essay about The Role of Madness in The Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet

- The role that madness plays in The Spanish Tragedy and in Hamlet, indeed in all revenge tragedies, is a vital one; it provides an opportunity for the malcontent to be converted by the environment into the avenger. In almost all revenge tragedies, the malcontent takes the form of a renaissance man or woman who is confronted with a problem - the deed to be avenged. This crime, and the criminals that perpetrated it, effect that surroundings to such an extent that it is impossible to remain unchanged by them....   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Powerful Essays
1991 words (5.7 pages)

Essay about Heroes and Revenge in Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy

- Heroes and Revenge in Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy In Elizabethan drama, it was accepted that the villains of the piece would, because of their evil methods and aims, be revealed and punished - in other words, justice would be served. The problem, however, arises when the "heroes" of the piece use the same methods as the villains. I use the term hero warily, as the traditional hero of a revenge tragedy is one who would at first seem completely unsuited to a revenging role; Heironimo is portrayed as being too old, while Hamlet is seen as being too young....   [tags: Compare Contrast Comparison]

Powerful Essays
1385 words (4 pages)

Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Typical Revenge Tragedy

- Hamlet as a Typical Revenge Tragedy       Shakespeare’s Hamlet very closely follows the dramatic conventions of revenge in Elizabethan theater. All revenge tragedies originally stemmed from the Greeks, who wrote and performed the first plays. After the Greeks came Seneca who was very influential to all Elizabethan tragedy writers. Seneca who was Roman, basically set all of the ideas and the norms for all revenge play writers in the Renaissance era including William Shakespeare. The two most famous English revenge tragedies written in the Elizabethan era were Hamlet, written by Shakespeare and The Spanish Tragedy, written by Thomas Kyd....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Hamlet]

Free Essays
2712 words (7.7 pages)

Soliolquy in Shakespeare´s Hamlet and The Reverger´s Tragedy Essay

- ... Moreover the logical progression in Hamlet’s interaction with Claudius is lost to a more liberal and erratic composition of ideas in the soliloquy. In dialogue, Hamlet offers explanation and justification: “These indeed seem / For they are…”. There is logic and rationale to this structure; it gives the appearance of a speaker who is well evidenced, certain and in control, however it is an unconvincing reflection of the way we speak. Hamlet collapses into soliloquy, losing this composed structure....   [tags: appearances, moods, behavior, disguise]

Powerful Essays
1837 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet '

- Hamlet is a dramatic play written by William Shakespeare. It’s about how Prince Hamlet takes revenge on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius 's own brother and Prince Hamlet 's father. Shakespeare’s main objective was to impress his Elizabethan audience because entertainment through theater was very important to everyone in that era. This essay will explain how an Elizabethan audience was targeted by Hamlet’s speech (act 4, lines 32-66). This speech effectively targeted Elizabethan audience because its format, revenge, and exciting nature caused the audience to sympathize with Hamlet’s decisions and feelings, and become involved in the play....   [tags: Hamlet, Prince Hamlet, William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
1565 words (4.5 pages)

Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Essay

- Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Revenge tragedy was a brief sub genre of tragedy at the end of the sixteenth century, despite some clashes with the teachings of the church. In a revenge tragedy a crime, normally murder, has gone unpunished, because the criminal has too much power and cannot be reached by the law. This fact is revealed by a ghost to someone closely connected with the victim, laying on him the responsibility to revenge the crime. The revenger is usually an outsider who lacks access to the criminal, who is at the centre of a completely corrupt court....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
1283 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet

- The Revenge Tragedy in Hamlet         Shakespeare’s very tragic play Hamlet is generally regarded by literary critics as a revenge tragedy. This essay seeks to explain how Hamlet satisfies the requirements of a tragedy.   There is near-absolute proof of the notion that Hamlet is a revenge-tragedy in the fact of the large number of instances in which this play corresponds to the formula of a “typical” revenge-tragedy of the Elizabethan era. Phyllis Abrahms and Alan Brody in “Hamlet and the Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy Formula” enlighten us on this more-than-coincidental conformity:    There are ten deaths in Hamlet, if we include the death of Hamlet’s father and the “make-believe” de...   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
1950 words (5.6 pages)

William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Essay

- William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Revenge Tragedy was a genre which lasted from 1590 until 1615. The genre appealed to the Elizabethan audience’s desire for blood and violence without emotional depth. ================================================================== Revenge tragedies originated in the writings of the Roman Seneca (4BC-AD65) whose plays heavily influenced Elizabethan dramatists. Seneca’s tragedies, using stories derived from mythology emphasised bloody action, horrific incidents and ranting speeches....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
1241 words (3.5 pages)