Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5959bf8d4d-c2ftz Total loading time: 0.418 Render date: 2022-12-07T14:54:19.556Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

7 - Tragic forms

from Part 1 - Themes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2010

Emma Smith
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University
Get access

Summary

My music is a cannon, a pitched field my stage, Furies the actors, blood and vengeance the scene; death the story, a sword imbrued with blood the pen that writes, and the poet a terrible buskined tragical fellow, with a wreath about his head of burning match instead of bays.

Describing his activities on the battlefield in theatrical terms, the soldier Balthazar in Thomas Dekker's The Noble Spanish Soldier (c. 1621-34) captures neatly the popular stereotype of Renaissance tragedy, characterised by blood, revenge, high-blown rhetoric and death. He also highlights its derivation from classical archetypes in his reference to the figures known in Roman mythology as the Furies and by the Greeks as the Erinyes - who pursued wrongdoers and, in particular, those who murdered members of their own family - and in the image of the 'buskined' poet, who wears the high boot, or buskin, that was associated with Greek tragedy, and a wreath of combustible match-sticks around his head instead of the customary laurel leaves.

Keen to establish and maintain the genre's artistic and cultural authority, writers and other commentators often give the impression that tragedy was static and unchanging, clinging tightly to time-worn conventions and clichés. A closer look at the wide range of tragedies produced in this period, however, undermines such assumptions about tragic form. G. K. Hunter refers to tragedy as the 'most clear-cut of dramatic genres', and to some extent this is true; but, as he acknowledges, early modern playwrights tend 'to turn the concept of genre from a set of rules into a technique of multi-layering'.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Tragic forms
  • Edited by Emma Smith, University of Oxford, Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr, Pennsylvania State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy
  • Online publication: 28 November 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521519373.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Tragic forms
  • Edited by Emma Smith, University of Oxford, Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr, Pennsylvania State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy
  • Online publication: 28 November 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521519373.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Tragic forms
  • Edited by Emma Smith, University of Oxford, Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr, Pennsylvania State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy
  • Online publication: 28 November 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521519373.007
Available formats
×