Act the Fool: Antonio’s Revenge and the Conventions of the Counterfeit-Disability Tradition

  • Lindsey Row-Heyveld
Part of the Literary Disability Studies book series (LIDIST)


This chapter establishes the conventions of the counterfeit-disability trope and explores how those conventions both upheld and complicated the concurrent conventions of revenge tragedy. The counterfeit-disability tradition defines itself through its narrative, thematic, and generic flexibility, but specific conventions still unify it, namely, its focus on audience response. Grounded in a reading of John Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge (c. 1600–01), the chapter demonstrates how the dissembling of disability supports the play’s narrative structure, providing a plot device to facilitate Antonio’s delay of revenge and to inoculate him (and the audience) against the dangerous ethics of that vengeance. Further, Row-Heyveld argues that consistent attention to audience interpretation—where skillful spectators suspect counterfeit disability and faulty spectators believe and pity dissemblers—fosters suspicion about disability off-stage as well.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsey Row-Heyveld
    • 1
  1. 1.Luther CollegeDecorahUSA

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