Antonio’s Revenge, Riot and Collective Action

  • Derek Dunne
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


The idea that ‘there should be nothing certayne, nothing sure’ in the absence of justice has been shown to be a common theme of both The Spanish Tragedy and Titus Andronicus. But revenge tragedy’s engagement with legal institutions goes far beyond the danger of biased judgements or the difficulty of interpreting evidence. Having established these early revenge tragedies’ ambivalent attitude towards legal methods of inquiry, in this chapter I develop the socio-political dimension to the staging of revenge in the early modern theatre. The judge’s fear of an uprising ‘against the Crowne’ is precisely what we see enacted in revenge tragedies, which usually end in a regicide that has a degree of popular support. To some extent this is visible in Hieronimo’s struggle against class prejudice when seeking justice through the courts. It becomes more pronounced in the revenge tragedies around the turn of the century like Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge and Chettle’s The Tragedy of Hoffman, whose revengers are more forthright in their anti-authoritarian stance.


Collective Action Civil Unrest Early Modern Period Open Court Popular Protest 
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© Derek Dunne 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Dunne
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FribourgSwitzerland

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