The Spanish Tragedy | Thomas Kyd | Inclined Scorpio | Elizabethan Tragedy
Cover Page of ‘The Spanish Tragedy’

“That only I to all men just must be, And neither gods nor men be just to me”.

Hieronimo (The Spanish Tragedy: Act 3, Scene 6)

‘The Spanish Tragedy’ subtitled ‘Hieronimo is Mad Again’ is an Elizabethan revenge ๐Ÿ˜ก drama scripted โœ๏ธ by Thomas Kyd. Thomas Kyd instituted a new genre ๐Ÿ‘‰ of revenge drama in the English literature and also pursued the Senecan practice of the ‘tragedy of blood’ ๐Ÿ”ด. ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ is supposed to be written ๐Ÿ“„ in the mid or late 1580s and the earliest surviving edition was published in 1592.

Revenge ๐Ÿ˜ก with the Ghost of Andrea ๐Ÿ‘ป

‘The Spanish Tragedy’ opens with the chorus in which Revenge along with the Ghost of Andrea enters to wait ๐Ÿ˜ for the death โ˜  of Balthazar – the son of Viceroy of Portugal ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น in the hands ๐Ÿ–๏ธ of Bel-Imperia – Andrea’s mourning ๐Ÿ˜ข lover. Proserpine – the queen ๐Ÿ‘‘ of underworld ๐Ÿฆนโ€โ™€๏ธ, goddess of fertility and agriculture ๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒณ has commanded both Revenge and the Ghost of Andrea to observe his death โšฐ๏ธ. Revenge is personified โ˜ ๏ธ as a character in the play who accompanies the Ghost of Andrea to seek out revenge ๐Ÿ˜ก and desires to see what happens ๐Ÿค” in ‘The Spanish Tragedy’

Balthazar as Prisoner

Balthazar is brought as a prisoner after the war between the Spain and Portugal ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น. He is caught by Lorenzo – the son of the Duke of Castile as well as Bel-Imperia’s brother and Horatio – the son of Hieronimo, the Official Judge or Knight Marshal โ™ž of Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ . Both of them are rewarded ๐Ÿ‘ by the King. Horatio receives the ransome ๐Ÿ’ฐ while Balthazar’s horse ๐Ÿ‡ and weapons ๐Ÿ—ก๏ธ๐Ÿน  are given to Lorenzo. Balthazar even though captured as a prisoner is housed in lushness at estate ๐Ÿ˜๏ธ of the Duke of Castile. 

Why the prisoner is living in luxury if he’s imprisoned ๐Ÿค”? Is anybody planning something else for both the countries to unite? What would that be ๐Ÿคจ

Bel-Imperia Knows About Andrea’s Death ๐Ÿ˜ข

Bel-Imperia meets Horatio and asks him to detail the death of her beloved Andrea. Horatio narrates ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ how brave and valiant he was on the war front ๐Ÿ›ก๏ธ. He reveals that he himself performed the funeral rites and has removed a scarf ๐Ÿงฃ from his body which will be wore by him upon his friend Andrea’s honor. 

The Scarf ๐Ÿงฃ 

“Yet this I did, and less I could not do:

I saw him honoured with due funeral.

This scarf I plucked from off his lifeless arm,

And wear it in remembrance of my friend”.

Horatio (The Spanish Tragedy: Act I, Scene 4)

The scarf ๐Ÿงฃ which Horatio now wears in the memory ๐Ÿ˜Œ of his friend was gifted to Andrea by Bel-Imperia before the war โš”๏ธ. The scarf was a symbol of love ๐Ÿ’• between Andrea and Bel-Imperia. She recognises ๐Ÿ˜ฏ the scarf and is impressed ๐Ÿ˜™ to see Horatio securing ๐Ÿ” it. She falls for Horatio which she also considers as a revenge ๐Ÿ˜  against Balthazar who has also confessed his for Bel-Imperia. 

“But how can love find harbour in my breast,

Till I revenge the death of my beloved?

Yes, second love shall further my revenge”.

Bel-Imperia (The Spanish Tragedy: Act I, Scene 4)

The Marriage โšญ An End to the Enmity 

The King ๐Ÿ‘‘ has come up with the solution to the enmity that exists between Spain and Portugal: the marriage โšญ of Balthazar and Bel-Imperia. She refuses ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™€๏ธ to accept him and rebuffs ๐Ÿ˜ his advancements towards her. Still, Lorenzo persuades Balthazar to woo ๐Ÿ˜š her convincing that she would eventually accept him as her partner โšฏ. 

Horatio is Murdered ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The Spanish Tragedy |Thomas Kyd |Inclined Scorpio | Book Review | Elizabethan Tragedy
Horatio and Bel-Imperia meets in the garden

“Both well, and ill: it makes me glad and sad:

Glad, that I know the hinderer of my love,

Sad, that I fear she hates me whom I love,

Glad, that I know on whom to be revenged,

Sad, that sheโ€™ll fly me if I take revenge.

Yet must I take revenge or die myself,

For love resisted grows impatient”.

Balthazar (The Spanish Tragedy: Act II, Scene 1)

Bel-Imperia meets Horatio in the garden one evening ๐ŸŒ… while her servant Pedringano was guarding the gates โ›ฉ๏ธ. Pedringano betrays her, informs ๐Ÿ’ญ Lorenzo and Balthazar of their meeting. Pedringano and Serberine – Balthazar’s servant is sent disguised ๐ŸŽญ to murder Horatio. Horatio’s body is hanged in the garden ๐Ÿž๏ธ from an arbour and is stabbed to death ๐Ÿ˜ฉ. Bel-Imperia calls for Hieronimo, Horatio’s father for help, but she is carried by four of them ๐Ÿ˜ฃ. 

The Spanish Tragedy |Thomas Kyd |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
The murder of Horatio being enacted by actors

Dawn of ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ ๐ŸŒค๏ธ

The Spanish Tragedy | Thomas Kyd |Inclined Scorpio | Book Review
Hieronimo and Isabella holding the dead body of Horatio in ‘The Spanish Tragedy’

“Seeโ€™st thou this handkercher besmeared with blood?

It shall not from me till I take revenge.

Seeโ€™st thou those wounds that yet are bleeding fresh?

Iโ€™ll not entomb them till I have revenged.

Then will I joy amidst my discontent,

Till then my sorrow never shall be spent”.

Hieronimo (The Spanish Tragedy: Act II, Scene 5)

Hieronimo and his wife Isabella find their son drenched in blood. They cry and grieve for the loss of their son. Hieronimo pulls out the blood drenched scarf pledges to avenge the death of his son bit his wife warns โš  him and requests ๐Ÿ™ him to stay in patience. 

“The heavens are just, murder cannot be hid:

Time is the author both of truth and right,

And time will bring this treachery to light”.

Isabella (The Spanish Tragedy: Act II, Scene 5)

The Ghost of Andrea ๐Ÿ‘ป waiting for the death of Balthazar has witnessed the death his bosom friend which made him angry ๐Ÿ˜ก and sad ๐Ÿ˜”. But, Revenge consoles him saying that Balthazar’s death is nearโ€ฆ 

Drama in the Portuguese Court 

“Thus have I with an envious, forged tale

Deceived the king, betrayed mine enemy,

And hope for guerdon of my villainy”.

Villuppo (The Spanish Tragedy: Act I, Scene 3)

In the court of Portuguese, a nobleman named Viluppo informs ๐Ÿ’ฌ Balthazar’s father – the Viceroy of Portugal that his son is shot dead ๐Ÿ”ซ by another nobleman named Alexandro. Alexandro is immediately imprisoned and sentenced to death ๐Ÿ˜ฉ while Portuguese Ambassador is sent to fetch if the news ๐Ÿ“ฐ is true. The Portuguese Ambassador returns confirming that Balthazar is alive ๐Ÿ™‚. Alexandro is released with a reward ๐Ÿ’ฐ while Viluppo who had lied to earn glory is executed ๐Ÿ’€ for betrayal. 

Bel-Imperia’s Letter โœ‰๏ธ

When Hieronimo and Isabella was mourning ๐Ÿ˜ข for their son, Hieronimo receives   a letter โœ‰๏ธ from Bel-Imperia revealing the murderers of Horatio’s murder and begs him to avenge his death. Hieronimo wants to prove Lorenzo and Balthazar has murdered Horatio and searches ๐Ÿ”Ž for Bel-Imperia. But she was found nowhere. He inquires to Serberine but it was useless. 

Serberine and Pedringano is Wiped Out 

The Spanish Tragedy | Thomas Kyd |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Pedringano iis arrested by Lorenzo in the play The Spanish Tragedy

Lorenzo who was present when Hieronimo enquires about Bel-Imperia suspects ๐Ÿคจ that he has betrayed ๐Ÿ˜– them and arranges to murder ๐Ÿ”ช him too. Pedringano is arranged to murder him but on other side, Lorenzo betrays ๐Ÿ˜ and orders the authorities to arrest Pedringano for committing murder. He is hanged ๐Ÿ™„ and so anybody else ๐Ÿคซ who os aware of Horatio’s murder, except Bel-Imperia is wiped out. 

Hieronimo to Seek Justice โš– 

Isabella – Horatio’s mother turns mad ๐Ÿ™ after the death of his son and commits suicide in the same garden ๐Ÿž๏ธ. Hieronimo was also turning insane but pledges to seek justice โš–๏ธ for his son through legal actions ๐Ÿ“‹ and tries to inform ๐Ÿ—ฏ๏ธ the King of Horatio’s murder but these advancements are hindered by Lorenzo. Lorenzo also informs ๐Ÿ—ฏ๏ธ the King that Hieronimo has gone insane after the death of his son and is now obsessed ๐Ÿ˜ถ with Lorenzo for taking the ransom money ๐Ÿ’ฐ of Balthazar which according to the right, belonged to Horatio. Hieronimo is suspended ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚๏ธ by the King due to these warnings who is now considered as a mad man. 

Will The Marriage Be Conducted ๐Ÿ’? 

The King ๐Ÿ‘‘ of Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ asks Hieronimo to stage a play to Hieronimo who was also a poet ๐Ÿ“ƒ and playwright ๐Ÿ“‘. He asks for an  entertainment ๐ŸŸ๏ธ as the Viceroy of Portugal ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น has come to attend the wedding ๐Ÿ’’. Hieronimo seeks the help of Bel-Imperia ๐Ÿ˜ and convinces Lorenzo and Balthazar to take part in the play. 

“Now, lordings, fall to; Spain is Portugal,

And Portugal is Spain, we both are friends,

Tribute is paid, and we enjoy our right,

But where is old Hieronimo, our marshal?

He promised us, in honour of our guest.

To grace our banquet with some pompous jest”.

King of Spain ( The Spanish Tragedy: Act I, Scene 4)

Why has Hieronimo chosen his enemies in the play ๐Ÿคจ? What will happen during the play ๐Ÿ˜•? Is the bloody tragedy coming ๐Ÿฅบ

The Play Ends in Bloodshed

The plot of the play is structured where a marriage ๐Ÿ’ is conducted between a Spanish Knight โ™ž and an Italian ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น woman ๐Ÿ‘ฉ which eventually ends in suicide and murder. When they enact the play, Bel-Imperia stabs ๐Ÿ—ก๏ธ Balthazar and finally stabs herself. Hieronimo also murders Lorenzo, confesses ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ that what is happening isn’t play, but real and runs โ›ฉ๏ธ behind the stage to hang himself. 

Will Hieronimo be caught or will he succeed in committing suicide? 

Hieronimo is Caught โ‰๏ธ

Hieronimo is caught and ordered to confess but he bites off his tongue ๐Ÿ‘…not to reveal the truth and letting them to torture ๐Ÿฅดhim. The Duke of Castile insists on confession and brings him a paper ๐Ÿ“„ and pen ๐Ÿ–‹. But Castile stabbed to  โœ’๏ธ death by the pen by Hieronimo and later kills himself. 

The Underworld ๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸงŸโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘บ

The Ghost of Andrea and Revenge is now happy as his death is avenged โ˜บ๏ธ. Lorenzo, Balthazar and Pedringano are all destructed ๐Ÿ˜– who will now meet up in hell ๐Ÿ”ฅ. Andera is happy ๐Ÿ˜Š to live his eternal life as he is going to welcome ๐Ÿค—  Bel-Imperia, Horatio, Hieronimo, and Isabella to his eternal life. The play ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ ends leaving no one alive. The evil ๐Ÿ˜ˆ and vituous ๐Ÿ™‚ characters are seen dead by the end of the play.

‘The Spanish Tragedy’ is a play structured with four acts and 31 scenes ๐Ÿ“‘. It is believed that this play has been the inspiration and source ๐Ÿ“š for many other English tragedies like ‘Hamlet’. The play is set in Portugal ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น and Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ with Lorenzo as the antagonist. ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ is considered a modern adaptation to the classical tragedies scripted โœ๏ธ by Seneca.ย 

The Spanish Tragedy – Buy Now !


Naeema Jalal Inclined Scorpio

Naeema Jaleel

Writer at Inclined Scorpio

On an extended process of giving birth to myself structuring own concepts & beliefs.

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Naeema Jaleel

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