On Marston, The Malcontent, and The Revenger’s Tragedy

  • R. A. Foakes


In Act ii of The Revenger’s Tragedy there occurs one of a number of brilliant dramatic moments in the play, when Lussurioso, led by Vindice to think his stepmother, the Duchess, is making love with the Duke’s bastard son Spurio in the Duke’s bed, rushes on stage with his sword drawn to pull the curtains screening the bed, rejoicing to have an excuse to kill both. Vindice comes with him, egging him on, but Lussurioso, thoroughly provoked, and rehearsing the deed in imagination, pushes him away as he takes the final steps towards the bed:

Away, my spleen is not so lazy; Thus, and thus, Ill shake their eyelids ope, And with my sword shut ‘em again for ever. (ii.iii.5–7)

Brandishing his sword, he draws the curtains screening the bed’s occupants from the audience and himself, to reveal, unexpectedly, the Duchess in bed with the Duke.


Moral Intensity Moral Distress Shaping Vision Successful Fusion Theatrical Gesture 
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  1. 2.
    Arthur C. Kirsch, “Cymbeline and Coterie Dramaturgy”, ELH, A Journal of English Literary History, Vol. XXXIV (1967) 293Google Scholar
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    Richard Levin, “The Proof of the Parody”, Essays in Criticism Vol. XXIV (1974) 312–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. Foakes

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