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Notes on The Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet

            The revenge tragedy became a popular genre of drama in England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The revenge tragedy genre was based off the work of the Roman playwright, Seneca. The first well known revenge tragedy was "The Spanish Tragedy," by Thomas Kyd, which was first performed around 1592. It is often considered the inspiration for William Shakespeare's most famous revenge tragedy, "Hamlet." Kyd's play predates Shakespeare's by at least six years if not longer as the exact publishing and performance dates for each are not absolutely certain. It is therefore plausible that Kyd's work influenced Shakespeare's masterpiece, "Hamlet." There many similarities between the two plays that could support this hypothesis including the metatheatricality, the visitation of the victim's ghost, the violent murder/suicide scenes, and the declining mental state of the protagonist.
             I. Seneca and the history of revenge tragedy.
             a. One paragraph does not have to be long.
             II. Metatheatricality.
             a. Define metathatricality.
             b. Hieronimo presents a play as a means of confronting Horatio's killers.
             c. Hamlet presents a play as a means of making Claudius feel guilt over his father's death and hopefully making him confess.
             III. Ghostly visitation.
             a. The Ghost of Andrea is present throughout the play making commentary and in the end judges the guilty.
             b. Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father who tells him that his uncle Claudius murdered him by pouring poison in his ear while he slept.
             IV. Violent murders/suicides.
             a. The Spanish Tragedy.
             i. Balthazar and Lorenzo murder Horatio.
             ii. Hieronimo's wife commits suicide.
             iii. Lorenzo kills his accomplices.
             iv. Hieronimo stabs Lorenzo,.
             v. Bel-Imperia stabs Balthazar and herself.   .
             vi. Hieronimo drags out the body of his dead son and briefly unfolds the tale.   When pressed for further details, he bites off his tongue.  .
             vii. Hieronimo then stabs Lorenzo's innocent father with a penknife and commits suicide.

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