Article Title

Antonio's Revenge: "Never more woe in lesser plot was found"


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Antonio's Revenge (c. 1599-1600) is one of those "historically important," but unfortunate Elizabethan tragedies that is neither anthologized nor apotheosized. Compared often with Shakespeare's Hamlet and Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, it has been regarded as an inferior revenge tragedy, especially confused or perverse in the morality of its catastrophe.1 Judged by an Aristotelian standard, it seems neither "serious and complete" nor capable of "exciting pity and fear." Judged by the standard of burlesque, however, the play has recently been viewed as a conscious parody by Marston of the revenge tragedy tradition.2 This approach "explains" the play's various excesses and peculiarities, but fails to explain why Marston would make mock of his own company's boy actors (the children of Paul's) in order to score against the rival adult companies.3 I personally prefer to explain the play as a serious tragedy, and think that the text itself backs up such an interpretation.

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