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Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe

Important Quotations Explained

Chorus 4Epilogue
Key Facts
The reward of sin is death? Thats hard.
Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas.
If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and theres no truth in us.
Why then belike we must sin,
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this? Che sar, sar:
What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians,
And necromantic books are heavenly!
Faustus speaks these lines near the end of his opening soliloquy. In this speech, he considers
various fields of study one by one, beginning with logic and proceeding through medicine and
law. Seeking the highest form of knowledge, he arrives at theology and opens the Bible to the
New Testament, where he quotes from Romans and the first book of John. He reads that [t]he
reward of sin is death, and that [i]f we say we that we have no sin, / We deceive ourselves, and
theres no truth in us. The logic of these quotationseveryone sins, and sin leads to death
makes it seem as though Christianity can promise only death, which leads Faustus to give in to
the fatalistic What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu! However, Faustus neglects to read the
very next line in John, which states, If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). By ignoring this passage,
Faustus ignores the possibility of redemption, just as he ignores it throughout the play. Faustus
has blind spots; he sees what he wants to see rather than what is really there. This blindness is
apparent in the very next line of his speech: having turned his back on heaven, he pretends that
[t]hese metaphysics of magicians, / And necromantic books are heavenly. He thus inverts the
cosmos, making black magic heavenly and religion the source of everlasting death.

MEPHASTOPHILIS: Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.

Thinkst thou that I, who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,
Which strike a terror to my fainting soul.
FAUSTUS: What, is great Mephastophilis so passionate
For being deprivd of the joys of heaven?
Learn thou of Faustus manly fortitude,
And scorn those joys thou never shalt possess.
This exchange shows Faustus at his most willfully blind, as he listens to Mephastophilis describe
how awful hell is for him even as a devil, and as he then proceeds to dismiss Mephastophiliss
words blithely, urging him to have manly fortitude. But the dialogue also shows
Mephastophilis in a peculiar light. We know that he is committed to Faustuss damnationhe
has appeared to Faustus because of his hope that Faustus will renounce God and swear allegiance
to Lucifer. Yet here Mephastophilis seems to be urging Faustus against selling his soul, telling
him to leave these frivolous demands, / Which strike a terror to my fainting soul. There is a
parallel between the experience of Mephastophilis and that of Faustus. Just as Faustus now is,
Mephastophilis was once prideful and rebelled against God; like Faustus, he is damned forever
for his sin. Perhaps because of this connection, Mephastophilis cannot accept Faustuss cheerful
dismissal of hell in the name of manly fortitude. He knows all too well the terrible reality, and
this knowledge drives him, in spite of himself, to warn Faustus away from his t-errible course.
MEPHASTOPHILIS.: Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self-place; for where we are is hell,
And where hell is, there must we ever be.
All places shall be hell that is not heaven.
FAUSTUS: Come, I think hells a fable.
MEPHASTOPHILISs.: Ay, think so still, till experience change thy mind.
FAUSTUS: Thinkst thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine
That after this life there is any pain?
Tush, these are trifles and mere old wives tales.
This exchange again shows Mephastophilis warning Faustus about the horrors of hell. This time,
though, their exchange is less significant for what Mephastophilis says about hell than for
Faustuss response to him. Why anyone would make a pact with the devil is one of the most
vexing questions surrounding Doctor Faustus, and here we see part of Marlowes explanation.
We are constantly given indications that Faustus doesnt really understand what he is doing. He
is a secular Renaissance man, so disdainful of traditional religion that he believes hell to be a

fable even when he is conversing with a devil. Of course, such a belief is difficult to maintain
when one is trafficking in the supernatural, but Faustus has a fallback position. Faustus takes
Mephastophiliss assertion that hell will be [a]ll places that is not heaven to mean that hell
will just be a continuation of life on earth. He fails to understand the difference between him and
Mephastophilis: unlike Mephastophilis, who has lost heaven permanently, Faustus, despite his
pact with Lucifer, is not yet damned and still has the possibility of repentance. He cannot yet
understand the torture against which Mephastophilis warns him, and imagines, fatally, that he
already knows the worst of what hell will be.
Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss:
Her lips sucks forth my soul, see where it flies!
Come Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena!
These lines come from a speech that Faustus makes as he nears the end of his life and begins to
realize the terrible nature of the bargain he has made. Despite his sense of foreboding, Faustus
enjoys his powers, as the delight he takes in conjuring up Helen makes clear. While the speech
marks a return to the eloquence that he shows early in the play, Faustus continues to display the
same blind spots and wishful thinking that characterize his behavior throughout the drama. At the
beginning of the play, he dismisses religious transcendence in favor of magic; now, after
squandering his powers in petty, self-indulgent behavior, he looks for transcendence in a woman,
one who may be an illusion and not even real flesh and blood. He seeks heavenly grace in
Helens lips, which can, at best, offer only earthly pleasure. [M]ake me immortal with a kiss,
he cries, even as he continues to keep his back turned to his only hope for escaping damnation
namely, repentance.
Ah Faustus,
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The devil will come, and Faustus must be damned.
O Ill leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christs blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ
Ah, rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
Yet will I call on himO spare me, Lucifer!
Earth, gape! O no, it will not harbor me.
You stars that reigned at my nativity,

Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,

Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon laboring cloud,
That when you vomit forth into the air
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to heaven.
O God, if thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved.
Cursed be the parents that engendered me:
No, Faustus, curse thy self, curse Lucifer,
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.
My God, my God, look not so fierce on me!
Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
Ill burn my booksah, Mephastophilis!
Meaning These lines come from Faustuss final speech, just before the devils take him down
to hell. It is easily the most dramatic moment in the play, and Marlowe uses some of his finest
rhetoric to create an unforgettable portrait of the mind of a man about to carried off to a horrific
doom. Faustus goes from one idea to another, desperately seeking a way out. But no escape is
available, and he ends by reaching an understanding of his own guilt: No, Faustus, curse thy
self, curse Lucifer, / That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven. This final speech raises the
question of why Faustus does not repent earlier and, more importantly, why his desperate cries to
Christ for mercy are not heard. In a truly Christian framework, Faustus would be allowed a
chance at redemption even at the very end. But Marlowes play ultimately proves more tragic
than Christian, and so there comes a point beyond which Faustus can no longer be saved. He is
damned, in other words, while he is still alive.

Faustuss last line aptly expresses the plays representation of a clash between Renaissance and
medieval values. Ill burn my books, Faustus cries as the devils come for him, suggesting, for
the first time since scene 2, when his slide into mediocrity begins, that his pact with Lucifer is
about gaining limitless knowledge, an ambition that the Renaissance spirit celebrated but that
medieval Christianity denounced as an expression of sinful human pride. As he is carried off to
hell, Faustus seems to give in to the Christian worldview, denouncing, in a desperate attempt to
save himself, the quest for knowledge that has defined most of his life.

Doctor Faustus as a man of Renaissance.

Answer: Faustuss inexhaustible thirst for knowledge , his worship of beauty , his passion for the
classics , his skepticism , his interest in sorcery and magic , his admiration of Machiavelli and super
human ambition and will in the pursuit of ideals of beauty or power, prove him to be a man of
Faustus appears as a man of the Renaissance in the very opening scene when rejecting the
traditional subject of study, he turns to magic. He contemplates the world of profit and delight, of
power, of honor, of omnipotence which he will enjoy as a magician. In dwelling upon the advantages
of his magic power, he shows his ardent curiosity, his desire for wealth and luxury, his nationalism,
and his longing for power. These were precisely the qualities of the Renaissance. The Renaissance
was also the age of discovery. A number of allusions are also made regarding that. For example,
Faustus desires gold from the East Indies, pearls from the depth of the sea, pleasant fruit and
princely delicacies from America.
Obviously Faustus represents the new and aspiring spirit of the age of the Renaissance. Marlowe
expresses in this play both his fervent sympathy with that new spirit and ultimately his awed and
pitiful recognition of the danger into which it could lead those who were dominated by it. The danger
is clearly seen in Faustuss last soliloquy in which Faustus offers to burn his books. No doubt these
books are cheaply the books of magic, but we are surely reminded of his exclamation to the scholars
earlier in this scene:
O, would I had never seen Willenberg, never read book!
Thus we get the impression that Faustus attributes his downfall, partly at least, to his learning_ the
chief tenet of the Renaissance.
Doctor Faustus is the first play to explore the tragic possibilities of the direct clash between the
Renaissance compulsions and the Hebrai Christian tradition. Timberline symbolizes the outward
thrust of the Renaissance but Doctor Faustus focuses the inward.
The play has a typical morality play ending. It closes with a speech by the chorus warning forward
wits against such fiendish practices as Faustus followed. But if the play has a pious conclusion, the
truth of the play goes far beyond the final piety of the speech of the chorus. No figure of the old
morality plays does so much and so boldly as Faustus. Faustus in thought and action ,brooding ,
philosophizing , disputing, conjuring, defying God, risking his body and soul, does not suggest
merely the lay figure of the morality plays; he suggests Adam (the knowledge seeker), and he
suggests the defiant hero of the Greek tradition). In other words, Faustus puts into an old legend a
new meaning. He inserts into the old medieval or Christian moral equation the new and ambiguous
dynamic of the Renaissance.
In the play, all that the Renaissance valued is represented in what the devil has to offer. All that the
Good Angel has to offer is warnings. For example, The Good Angel warns Faustus against reading

the book of magic because it will bring Gods heavy wrath upon his head, and ask him to think of
heaven. To this the evil angel replies:
No, Faustus think of honour and of wealth.
At another point in the play the evil urges Faustus to go forward in the famous art of magic and to
become a lord and commander of the earth. There can be no doubt that the devil here represents
the natural ideal of the Renaissance by appealing to the vague but healthy ambitions of a young soul
which wishes to launch itself upon the wide world. No wonder that Faustus, a child of the
Renaissance cannot resists the devils allurement.
In short it can be said that represents almost everything that the Renaissance valued curiosity for
knowledge, power, enterprise, wealth and beauty.

Cast down our footstool.
Saxon Bruno, stoop.
Whilst on thy back his Holiness ascends
Saint Peter's chair and state pontifical.
Proud Lucifer, that state belongs to me.
But thus I fall to Peter, not to thee.
To me and Peter shalt thou grovelling lie
And crouch before the papal dignity. (3.1.88-95)
Meaning The Pope demands a display of submission from schismatic pope Bruno,
forcing him to get down on his hands and knees so he can use his back as a step-stool.
Talk about humiliating. Bruno only submits, he says, because he respects St. Peter,
implying that he recognizes the power of the office of Pope (which Peter represents),
but not the power of the man who now fills it.

c)Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark

OF DEATH is the fruit of Bacon's ripe wisdom and vast experience of the world. In this
essay, Bacon illustrates and reinforces his ideas and arguments with appropriate similes,
metaphors and quotations and this thing naturally adds to the popular appeal of OF DEATH".

Meaning That is, we fear the unknown. Bacon goes on to discuss the fear of the pain of death. You
shall read, in some of the friars books of mortification, that a man should think with himself, what the
pain is, if he have but his fingers end pressed, or tortured, and thereby imagine, what the pains of death
are, when the whole body is corrupted, and dissolved

MEN fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children, is
increased with tales, so is the other.
Meaning Mortals dread death as much as children fear to venture out in darkness. Such
fear is in-born, but gets accentuated when we get to hear horrific accounts woven around
death, and the perils of darkness.

Of Marriage and Single Life by Francis Bacon

d) HE that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are
impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

Meaning A married man has a wife and children, to whose upkeep, welfare and security he
remains deeply committed. This is true for all societies, in all ages and in all lands. Such
entanglement restricts his freedom to endeavor for something that his heart yearns for. It can
something very noble and sublime or something wicked and devious.
f) Let sea discoveries to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to others, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess our world; each hath one and is one.

Meaning In the second stanza of The good morrow the poet sheds light upon the bliss
which envelops the lovers. He says that he does not care about how much the sea discoverers
expand the boundaries of the world with their discoveries. During those times when maritime
discoveries were given utmost importance, the new inclusions to the map of the world meant
nothing to the poet since his world only comprised of his beloved and him. Their respective
worlds have now been fused into one. This drawing of an intellectual parallel from astronomy
and geography strengthens the metaphysics of the poem.

The Revenger's Tragedy Jacobean Drama

Jacobean drama is named after Jacobus, the Latin translation of "James."
Scholars use this term to refer collectively to the theatrical works created
during the reign of James I (1603-1625) in England. The Jacobean plays
evolved out of Elizabethan dramas but around 1610, began to show a
marked shift from the previous era's theatrical tradition. The plays from the
Jacobean period are decadent, spectacular, and bizarre; scholars and critics
have often deemed them to lack the same substance and fine wit of their
predecessors. The Jacobean label often encompasses the dramatic works

written during the reign of Charles I as well, which ended in 1642 and
signified the completion of the English Renaissance.
The later examples of Jacobean drama, as scholar Charles Boyce explains,
"often rely on false starts, sudden changes of motivation, and gratuitous
accidents. The artificiality of these devices reflects a different emotional
tone: These works largely ignore the implications of human disaster for
society or for humanity as a whole, and focus instead on the pathos of the
individual." These plays tend to be cheaply sensational, featuring sexual
depravity and superfluous violence. Quite often, the violence is an end unto
itself. These plays were often intended to evince pessimism and cynicism
from their audiences; many are satires and/or feature a great deal of irony.
Masks, disguises, and concealed identities are ubiquitous themes.
William Shakespeare features prominently in the early part of the Jacobean
period. He wrote some of his most renowned plays during this era,
including Othello, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and King Lear.
Meanwhile, the comedies Shakespeare wrote during the Jacobean era are
known for harnessing the "emerging taste for spectacle, romantic characters,
and improbable plots" but are "singular for their interest in the virtues of
innocence and providence in human affairs," according to Boyce.
Another great playwright of the Jacobean period is John Webster, whose
play The White Devil (1612) is still performed frequently. Thomas
Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy is one of the most notable Jacobean
plays, although its authorship was in dispute for a long time. Some scholars
claimed that it was the work of Cyril Tourneur, famous for The Atheist's
Tragedy (1611), but more recently there has been wide consensus that
Thomas Middleton is the true author of The Revenger's Tragedy.
Nevertheless, as the title of the play blatantly states, The Revenger's
Tragedy is part of a sub-genre called "the revenge tragedy" that became
quite popular with Jacobean audiences. While Shakespeare's Hamlet is no
doubt the most famous revenge tragedy, vengeance is a common theme
throughout many plays from the era.
Ben Jonson, John Ford, and John Marston also wrote notable theatrical works
during the Jacobean era; Jonson's satires of 17th century London are well
regarded and "represent the positive aspect of Jacobean comedy, which
otherwise tended toward coarser works chiefly concerned with the pursuit of
money through bald sexual intrigue." Finally, many scholars uphold the
collaborations of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher as some of the best
and most indicative of the period. For example, Philaster (1610), a classic

tragicomedy featuring a series of ridiculous coincidences, has inspired a

great deal of imitation over the years.

Senecan tragedy refers to a set of ancient Roman tragedies. Ten of these

plays exist, of which most likely eight were written by the Stoic philosopher
and politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
The characteristics of the Senecan tragedy were:
1. a division into five acts with Chorusesand in the English imitations often a dumb show expressive of the
2. a considerable retailing of horrors and violence, usually, though not always, acted off the stage and elaborately
3. a parallel violence of language and expression.
Gorboduc is a good example of a Senecan tragedy in English. The fashion, which developed in learned rather
than popular circles, was shortlived, and was displaced by a more vital and native form of tragedy. But its
elements persisted in Elizabethan drama and may be traced in such plays as Tamburlaine the Great and Titus
Andronicus. More than a century later traces of Senecan influence are apparent in Dryden's Troilus and Cressida





Revenge is a reactionyou can't get revenge without someone else provoking you into
pursuing it, obviously. In The White Devil, revenge takes the form of murder: it follows
the same physical law, stating that every action needs to have an equal and opposite
reaction. Since the action was murder (the murders of Camillo and Isabella), the
reaction is going to be murder as well. But revenge never works out quite the way you
plannedor it does if you're Francisco or the Cardinal, but not if you're Lodovico. In a
way, Lodovico's own murders and crimes from the past end up coming back to get him
sure, he might have served justice by killing Flamineo and Vittoria, but he has too
many sins on his head to escape poetic justice himself. He has nothing to look forward
to but torture and death.

Questions About Revenge

1. Is it ever right to pursue revenge? Or should you always "turn the other cheek"?
2. How justified are Francisco and the Cardinal in pursuing revenge? Does their revenge
take a toll beyond what would be justifiable (think about Zanche's murder, etc.)?
3. Is this really a "revenge tragedy," as its almost always called? Like, where's the tragedy?
Are we supposed to feel bad that Flamineo, Brachiano, Vittoria, and Lodovico die?



Definition of Comedy

Comedy is a literary genre and a type of dramatic work that is amusing and
satirical in its tone, mostly having cheerful ending. The motif of this dramatic
work is triumph over unpleasant circumstance by which to create comic
effects, resulting in happy or successful conclusion.
Thus, the purpose of comedy is to amuse the audience. Comedy has multiple
sub-genres depending upon source of humor, context in which an author
delivers dialogues, and delivery method, which include farce, satire and
burlesque. Tragedy, in contrast, is opposite to comedy, as tragedy deals with
sorrowful and tragic events in a story.
Types of Comedy

There are five types of comedy in literature:

Romantic Comedy

This type of drama involves the theme of love leading to happy conclusion.
We find romantic comedy in Shakespearean plays and some Elizabethan
contemporaries. These plays are concerned with idealized love affairs. It is a
fact that the true love never runs smooth; however, love overcomes the
difficulties and ends in a happy union.
Comedy of Humors

Ben Johnson is the first dramatist, who conceived and popularized this
dramatic genre during late sixteenth century. The term humor derives from
Latin word humor that means liquid. It comes from a theory that human body
has four liquids or humors, which include phelgm, blood, yellow bile and black
bile. It explains that when human beings have balance of these humors in
their bodies, they remain healthy.
Comedy of Manners

This form of dramatic genre deals with intrigues and relations of ladies and
gentlemen, living in a sophisticated society. This form relies upon high
comedy, derived from sparkle and wit of dialogues, violations of social
traditions, and good manners by nonsense characters like jealous husbands,
wives and foppish dandies. We find its use in Restoration dramatists,
particularly in the works of Wycherley and Congreve.
Sentimental Comedy

Sentimental drama contains both comedy and sentimental tragedy. It appears

in literary circle due to reaction of middle class against obscenity and
indecency of Restoration Comedy of Manners. This form gained popularity
among the middle class audiences in eighteenth century. This drama
incorporates scenes with extreme emotions evoking excessive pity.

This dramatic genre contains both tragic and comedic elements. It blends both
elements to lighten an overall mood of the play. Often, tragicomedy is a
serious play ends happily.
Comedy Examples from Literature
Example 1

William Shakespeares play, A Midsummer Nights Dream, is a good example

of a romantic comedy, presenting young lovers falling comically in and out of
love for a brief period. Their real world problems get resolved magically,
enemies reconcile and true lovers unite in the end.
Example 2

In his play, Every Man in His Humor, Ben Johnson brings comedy of humors.
An overpowering suspicion and obsessed with his wife that she might be
unfaithful to him, controls Kitely. Then, a country gull determines every
decision of George Downright in order to understand the manners of gallant
city. Knowell worried for moral development of his son, tries to spy on him.
Example 3

Sir Richard Steeles play, The Conscious Lovers, is a best-known and popular
sentimental comedy, which is like a melodrama. It characterizes
extreme exaggeration, dealing with trials of its penniless leading role Indiana.
The play ends happily with the discovery of Indiana as heiress.
Example 4

Shakespeares play, Alls Well that Ends Well, perfectly sums up tragic and
comic elements. This tragicomedy play shows antics of low born but devoted
Helena, who attempts to win the love of her lover, Bertram. She finally
succeeds into marrying him though she decides not to accept him until wears
family ring of her husband and bears him a child. She employs a great deal of
trickery by disguising herself as Bertrams another he is after and fakes her
death. Bertram discovers her treachery at the end but realizes Helena did all
that for him and expresses his love for her.
Function of Comedy

Comedy tends to bring humor and induce laughter in plays, films and theaters.
The primary function of comedy is to amuse and entertain the audience, while
it also portrays social institutions and persons as corrupt and ridicules them
through satirizing, parodying and poking fun at their vices. By doing this, the
authors expose foibles and follies of individuals and society by using comic

Senecan elements in The Spanish Tragedy

The Spanish Tragedy belongs to a class of drama known as the
revenge play, which comes from the pen of Thomas Kyd (15581594). Almost all the English playwrights of that time followed the
Classical playwrights, Classical tragedies. Kyd also did the same.
Especially he followed Roman playwright Lucius Annaneus Seneca
(4BC-65AD) blindly. So he is called The English Seneca.
Seneca was also a Roman Stoic philosopher. Primly he
wrote tragic dramas. His dramas were full of melodramatic
elements, such as, blood-shed, killing, assassination, horror
scenes, etc. For these reasons his dramas are suitable for only to
read in chamber or in closed room. Let us now have a brief
discussion about the elements of Seneca used by Kyd in his
play The Spanish Tragedy.
In all the plays of Seneca we find the revenge theme.
Revenge was the main plot, main motive in his plays. Like him,
Kyd also used the revenge theme. As we find The Ghost of
Andrea, Bel-Imperia, Horatio, Isabella and Hieronimo all the
characters want to take revenge. Though we see that the climates
are different, but their motive is same. We find Hieronimo saying
after the death of his son, Horatio: Seest thou this handkerchief
besmeared with blood? / It shall not from me till I take revenge.
(2. 5. 51-52).

In Senecan plays, all the

characters think that if they take revenge upon the killers who
have murdered their dearest persons, it can never be a sin.
Rather it is a sacred duty. Because by killing the murderers they
will be able to get proper justice. Very same tendency we observe
in the character of Bel-Imperia and Hieronimo. We see Bel-Imperia
uttering: But how can love find harbor in my breast, / Till I
revenge the death of my beloved? (1. 4. 64-65).
Description of Underworld is a major element in
Senecan plays. Kyd has also used reference of Hell in this
play. Here we get Pluto, the king of Underworld, Proserpine, the
queen of Pluto. We also get Charon, the ill-tempered boatman of
the river of Underworld Acheron. There were also three judges of
Hell: Minos, Aeacus and Radamanth. Kyd has also mentioned the
foul waters of the hellish lake Avernus, and the monstrous three
headed dog Cerberus.
Melodramatic elements, such as declamatory speech,
excessive passion, musically acted, cured appeal to poetic justice,
all of such qualities were used by Seneca in his plays. Similarly
Kyd in this play has employed such elements too. We find
declamatory speech in Hieronimos soliloquies and excessive

passion in Bel-Imperias dialogues. In Melodrama good characters

are rewarded and bad characters are punished. The Spanish
Tragedy does not maintain this rule of Melodrama properly.
Seneca used horror elements, blood-shed, violence and
terror, bloody atmosphere in his plays, so does Kyd. The brutal
killing of Horatio, the preparation of the upcoming burning of
Alexandro, the killing of Serberine, the stabbing scene of Isabella,
the killing of Lorenzo, Balthazar, and Don Cyprion, the biting of
Hieronimos tongue himself, all these elements of horror
incidents, of blood-shed, create an atmosphere of terror and
violence in the mind of the readers.
In the revenge plays of Seneca, we find an introduction to
ghost. And in the same way Kyd in The Spanish Tragedy has also
introduced some supernatural machinery, such as The Ghost of
Andrea and The Spirit of Revenge, who serve the purpose of
chorus. Beside a Dumb Show that takes place in Act 3, Scene 15
is also an element of supernatural mystery.
In Senecan tragedies such as Phaedra and Medea we find
that the heroines are very beautiful, but they are very
lustful and unchaste. In this play we see the character of BelImperia who is very beautiful, but furthermore she has more than
one lover. Though she wants to avenge upon her first lovers
death, Andrea, still she falls in love Horatio and they spend
amorous moments like lustful lovers. We got Bel-Imperia saying to
Horatio: Sitting safe, to sing in Cupids choir / That sweetest bliss
in crown of loves desire. (2. 2. 16-17).
This play of Kyd, as in Senecan plays, we discover loose
characterization. A hero must have an active role throughout
the play, but we do not find even a single one here. Before the
play starts, Andrea was murdered, Horatio too was murdered
soon. Hieronimo is not to be considered as hero. On the other

hand Bel-Imperia had more than one beloved, so she is not an

ideal heroine. Her character is defective. And there is not any
other strong female character in this play without her.
Some villainous character we see in Senecan plays. In this
play we see the character of Lorenzo who make all the foul
conspiracies. He also makes Balthazar, Pedringano and Serberine
to act according to his will. We witness how Lorenzo makes a grim
plan and says to Balthazar when they find out Horatio as BelImperias beloved: Do you but follow me, and gain your love: /
Her favour must be won by his remove. (2. 1. 137-138).
Out of frustration in Senecan plays we find the tendency to
commit suicide. In this play we also see that three characters:
Isabella, Bel-Imperia and Hieronimo commit suicide. Though
Hieronimo and Bel-Imperia have already completed their revenge
upon Lorenzo and Balthazar yet they commit suicide, because
without their dearest persons they do not want to survive in this

In fine, from the light of the above discussion it has been

cleared that Thomas Kyd is the pioneer of revenge tragedy
following the traditions of Seneca, though Senecan plays were
only for reading out not for enacting. In this play The Spanish
Tragedy, he has used elements of Seneca profoundly. As Kyd
indiscreetly followed the elements of Seneca is his play, so his has
rightly been called The English Seneca.
Senecan tragedy
Senecan tragedy refers to a set of ancient Roman tragedies. Ten of these plays exist, of which most likely eight
were written by the Stoic philosopher and politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca. The group includes Hercules
Furens, Medea, Troades, Phaedra, Agamemnon, Oedipus, Phoenissae, Thyestes, Hercules Oetaeus,
and Octavia. Hercules Oetaeus is generally considered not to have been written by Seneca, and Octavia is
certainly not.[1] In the mid-16th century, Italian humanists rediscovered these works, making them models for the
revival of tragedy on the Renaissance stage. The two great, but very different, dramatic traditions of the age
French neoclassical tragedy and Elizabethan tragedy both drew inspiration from Seneca. Usually, the
Senecan tragedy focuses heavily on supernatural elements.

Although many of the Senecan tragedies adapt the same Greek myths as tragedies by Sophocles, Aeschylus,
and Euripides, scholars tend not to view Seneca's works as direct adaptations of the Attic works, as Seneca's
approach to the myths differs significantly from the Greek poets and often contains themes familiar from his
philosophical writings.[2] It is possible that Seneca's tragic style was more directly influenced by Augustan
French neoclassical dramatic tradition, which reached its highest expression in the 17th-century tragedies
of Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine, drew on Seneca for form and grandeur of style. These neoclassicists
adopted Seneca's innovation of the confidant (usually a servant), his substitution of speech for action, and his
moral hairsplitting.
The Elizabethan dramatists found Seneca's themes of bloodthirsty revenge more congenial to English taste than
they did his form. The first English tragedy, Gorboduc (1561), by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton, is a chain
of slaughter and revenge written in direct imitation of Seneca. (As it happens, Gorboduc does follow the form as
well as the subject matter of Senecan tragedy: but only a very few other English playse.g. The Misfortunes of
Arthurfollowed its lead in this.) Senecan influence is also evident in Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, and
in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Hamlet. All three share a revenge theme, a corpse-strewn climax, and The
Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet also have ghosts among the cast; all of these elements can be traced back to the
Senecan model.