Gendering revenge in <i>The Spanish Tragedy</i>
Feminine fury and the contagiousness of theatrical passion
in Doing Kyd
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This chapter explores how one of the first revenge tragedies to be performed on the commercial stage employs gender strategies to problematise the theatrical performance of vengefulness. The Spanish Tragedy's problematisation of revenge tragedy's move to the commercial theatre is highlighted by a reversal of gender patterns. Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy shows itself to be very much aware of the dangers of appropriating the Senecan tradition for the commercial stage. The Spanish Tragedy problematises the performance of feminine vindictive passion outside its original context of the English legal institutions of the Inns of Court. The vindictive feminine fury shaped in Inns of Court tragedies with the purpose to support the expanding legal system leaks into the commercial theatre and there 'infects' the lower classes and female members of the audience. The feminine fury of Seneca's women is indeed, as the men of law in Newton's dedication feared, greatly contagious.

Doing Kyd

Essays on The Spanish Tragedy


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