The Tragedy of Revenge
In this course we will explore the vogue for mutilation, murder, madness (real and feigned), torture, vengeful ghosts, plot twists, and meta-plays within plays, all combined with macabre humor and plenty of blood for an afternoon’s entertainment on the English stage circa 1600. Why must revenge be so ghastly and so utterly irresistible? Readings include masterpieces of dramatic literature by Thomas Kyd, George Chapman, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster. In addition to examining the moral, ethical, historical, and social implications of the genre in its own day, we will compare them with how fictional narratives of vengeance and vigilantism seem to function for popular audiences today. 3 hrs. lect/disc.