Thomas Kyd - The Spanish Tragedy

Don Andrea, a courtier in the Spanish court, falls in love with Bel-imperia, a daughter of the Duke of Castile. Yet he is wounded during the battle of Alcantra in 1580 and soon dies. His soul descends the body and goes down to the underworld. There Don Andrea meets a personified Revenge who proposes to guide him through “the gates of horn” and show him the truth about his murder. The motif comes from Virgil’s Aeneid where the are twin gates mentioned: the gate of horn with true visions and that of ivory which shows only falsehood. The Ghost of Don Andrea and Revenge “sit and see” and comment upon the events, calling themselves the “Chorus in this tragedy.”

In this play-within-the play the Ghost of Don Andrea and Revenge should be present onstage all the time. They make some comments as they watch the action but they are not heard by other characters. Andrea desperately seeks revenge on his murderer and is rather impatient to punish him there and then. Gullible and under-informed, he keeps asking questions and wants Revenge to take some immediate action. Revenge, however, knows the story and knows how it ends. No wonder he falls asleep at the end of ACT III as he is bored to death. He is the master of the ceremony, “I’ll show thee,” he says to Don Andrea. The Ghost has to wait patiently. His revenge will take place in the world where Hieronimo plays the avenger after his son’s murder.


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