Friday 4th November- The Revenger’s Tragedy

After spending previous sessions focusing on Restoration Comedy, the purpose of this session was to move away from that and onto Jacobean plays. The aim of this was to look at a section of a play written at this time. The play we focused on for this session was ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ which was originally thought to be written by Cyril Tourneur but is now recognised as Thomas Middleton’s work.

The five act play, ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ was first performed in 1606 but was published a year later during the reign of James I and mocked society at the time. It fell out of favour before the restoration happened in 1660 but was revived in the 20th century, even being turned into a film which was released in 2002 (1).

The first thing we looked at with this play were the characters, just like in restoration comedies, I noticed a similarity in terms of the character names and their personality. One example of this is from a character in the play called ‘Supervacuo’ which translates into being empty of something. This can have two meanings though as it can indicate being empty of emotions of empty of knowledge.

We then read through the plot so we could understand what we were looking at, I had to read through the plot a couple of times. This was because the large number of characters involved made the plot very difficult to follow, especially with five acts. After reading and talking about it however, I was able to get an idea of the plot

We were given three different parts of the script, firstly, the beginning of act 5 between Vindice and Hippolito carrying the Duke’s body while dressed as Piato. While reading this section, I spent most of the time we had trying to figure out the meaning. I found it difficult initially but I was able to get some guidance through the translation at the bottom. Although I knew what was happening in the scene, there were some aspects that I needed clarifying when we got together in a group, for example, Vindice asking about the Duke’s son.

The next two scenes were split, the girls looked at a scene in act 4 between Gratiana and her daughter, Castiza. This is a scene that I really struggled with the meaning but I found out that I wasn’t the only one. There was not much indication in the translation section at the bottom but all we were able to acknowledge that there was tension between the two characters because of actions that Gratiana took.

The boys on the other hand looked at a scene in act 5 which is shortly after the first scene we all looked at when Vindice and Hippolito kill the Duke. Unlike the other two scenes, I was able to quickly understand what was going on. The two characters along with Lussurioso talk about killing the Duke while he is drunk and then end up doing it further on in the page.

In conclusion, none of us prior to the session knew anything about this play so it was good to get to know the it all together. Before next weeks session, we have all been given a Jacobean play to research, I need to research The White Devil.





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