Enacting revenge
The mingled yarn of Elizabethan tragedy
in Doing Kyd
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William Shakespeare's Romeo and Thomas Kyd's Hieronimo were two of the most highly praised creations of Elizabethan tragedy, yet neither has an obvious flaw. In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, the Romans perform their customary expiation of the spirits of those who have died in battle by sacrificing the highest-born male among their prisoners of war. Because of their dazzling theatricality the tragedies of Kyd, Marlowe, Shakespeare and Marston have remained alive in later centuries. Just as sixteenth-century tragic theory was frequently based on a moralistic misreading of Aristotle, so many twentieth-century readings of Elizabethan tragedy were based on a psychological misreading of Aristotle. For most educated Elizabethans, Aristotle was a master of political theory and moral philosophy. The Spanish Tragedy of Kyd simultaneously set the pattern for late Elizabethan revenge drama and raised theatrical self-consciousness to a new level of sophistication.

Doing Kyd

Essays on The Spanish Tragedy

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