revenge tragedy

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A dramatic genre that flourished in the late Elizabethan and Jacobean period, sometimes known as ‘the tragedy of blood’. Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy (c.1587) helped to establish a demand for this popular form; later examples are Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, The Revenger's Tragedy, and, most notably, Hamlet. Common ingredients include: the hero's quest for vengeance, often at the prompting of the ghost of a murdered kinsman or loved one; scenes of real or feigned insanity; a play‐within‐a‐play; scenes in graveyards; scenes of carnage and mutilation; etc. Many of these items were inherited from Senecan drama, with the difference that in revenge tragedy violence was not reported but took place on stage. The revenge code also produced counterattacks, as in The Atheist's Tragedy, in Chapman's The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and again in Hamlet, in which the heroes refuse or hesitate to follow the convention.

Subjects: Literature.

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