Chapter

Introduction

Martin Wiggins

in Journeymen in Murder

Published in print November 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112280
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670749 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112280.003.0001
Introduction

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The assassin, suborned to do another villain's murders, is one of the most recurrent minor figures in plays written during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I. Evidently, murder plots of this type remained useful to playwrights and interesting to playgoers throughout a long period. The assassin belongs to a side of English Renaissance drama that we do not now find congenial: its violence and intrigue. The popular reputation of Jacobean tragedy today places it alongside Grand Guignol and ‘splatter’ movies, unpleasant entertainments catering for abnormal tastes. One of this book's contentions is that most stage assassins do not kill simply because they are told to, and that their motives are often the centre of their appeal and interest. In part, this interest is akin to that claimed for stage violence by recent critics who have attempted to rehabilitate that aspect of English Renaissance drama.

Keywords: English Renaissance; drama; assassins; murder; plays; stage violence; Jacobean tragedy; Grand Guignol; intrigue

Chapter.  3606 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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