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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Senecan elements in The Spanish Tragedy

The Spanish Tragedy is the most popular and successful drama of Thomas Kyd. Thomas Kyd was a dramatist of Elizabethan age and The Spanish Tragedy is often called as revenge play. It is deeply influenced by the roman philosopher and dramatist Seneca. That is why, we can find many Senecan elements in this drama.

Before going into details about the Senecan elements it is better we try to discuss something about Seneca and his life and his ideas. Seneca was a politician in Roman age. However, he was also a scholar but he was perhaps unlucky in life because in Roman history at a time when there were too many conspiracies. Court life was always dangerous and Seneca for most of his life had to deal with many dangers in his life. In fact, his own personal life was full of tragedies and in the end he was forced to commit suicide because he king suspected that he was against the king. In Senecan tragedies, we can find many bloodshed and violence. Horror and super natural elements are also present. As I have already said that he was in Roman Empire court and that is why he often talked about kings and queens.

The Spanish Tragedy starts with the murder of Don Andrea by Don Balthazar and Don Andrea was a Spanish noble man. It was a battle between Spain and Portugal and Don Balthazar was the Portuguese prince. After death Don Andrea went to the second life and there he met with the character of Revenge. The Revenge promises that he would help Andrea to take revenge for the unfair death that he suffered. Thus, from the start we can understand that their will be super natural elements and there will be a lot of bloodshed in this drama.

The presence of super natural elements is anther Senecan element. In The Spanish Tragedy, the revenge is a super natural character and he is present though out the drama. In fact, he talks and speaks like a human being in stead of his super natural elements. He promises to Andrea and he keeps his promise.

Horatio is the friend of Don Andrea and he was a brave soldier. He showed a lot of bravery by capturing the Portuguese prince and this way the king of Spain was very happy with him. Don Andrea was in love with Bel-Imperia and Bel-Imperia was the niece of Spanish king. Horation came to Bel-Imperia and told her that Andrea was murdered. Bel-Imperia became very sad and got very angry with Balthazar that he unjustly murdered her lover. However, we see that Bel-Imperia soon falls in love with Horatio and she think that Horatio was a good man. Then the two had good relationship. This matter was not like the brother of Bel-Imperia Lorenzo. Lorenzo was a evil character and he was a Machiavellian character. He understood that the Portuguese prince had fallen in love with Bel-Imperia. So, he makes even plan and arranges that Horatio is murdered.

The murder of Horatio makes two persons very angry. However, I should write here that Lorenzo hires some people to murder Horatio. Then Lorenzo himself thought that if these two people betrays him in future or reveals that Lorenzo is the main villain. So, he arranges that these two murderers of Horatio get killed. Thus, we can find that Lorenzo is a very bad character. Both Hieronimo and Bel-Imperia understand that Lorenzo and Balthazar were the murderer of Horatio and this matter made them very angry. The mother of Horatio is Isabella and because of this great loss of the death of her son she becomes mad and she commits suicide.

Hieronimo makes a plan to get revenge and he seeks the help of Bel-Imperia. Bel-Imperia happily agrees to help her because Bel-Imperia is also angry for the death of both Don Andrea and Horatio. In the end, Hieronimo arranges a drama to be staged and this drama is a drama within a drama. The drama was arranging in a way that Bel-Imperia kills Balthazar and kills herself. Before that Hieronimo kills Lorenzo and in the end Hieronimo could commit suicide. So, within a short time the audience can see that four deaths happened in the stage. Murder and violence is perhaps nothing new in drama. When there is a tragic play, naturally there will be death and sometimes murder and bloodshed. However, in the dramas that have Senecan elements like The Spanish Tragedy, violence and bloodshed are in extreme level. They create horror in the mind of the audience. The people get killed in a short time is perhaps more melo dramatic than tragic.

It will be unwise to say that The Spanish Tragedy is only a drama about revenge. It is perhaps more than revenge. There is a question of deniable justice. Don Andrea is murdered unjustly. Horatio is murdered in a very bad way. Hieronimo wanted to seek justice from the king of Spain but he could not. The king did not listen to him properly and this matter force Hieronimo and Bel-Imperia too only become more angry and murdered both Lorenzo and Balthazar.

Here, I like to say something about political matter. The Spanish Tragedy was written at a time when Queen Elizabeth was very powerful in England. The British parliament was still not so powerful and there was no democracy. England was still a monarchy in which the king or the queen was extremely powerful. Perhaps people like Thomas Kyd understood that if there is no democracy then justice can never take place. When justice is dependent on the whim of only one person like the queen or kind then ordinary people would suffer. Horatio was not an ordinary man. He was the sun of Hieronimo who was the chief Marshal and a very high positioned officer in the royal court of King of Spain. Still because Horatio was got killed by the nephew of the king, his father Hieronimo could not get any justice. So, I think that Thomas Kyd has symbolically staged that democracy is more important if we want to ensure justice in society.

In conclusion, I like to say that The Spanish Tragedy is a very good drama and it is full of Senecan elements.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:36 AM

    So many typos and misspelled words...use microsoft word check!!

    ReplyDelete