Theatricalising the theology of patient revenge in English renaissance drama

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A common trope in much English Renaissance tragedy is the idea of the suffering hero's inability to apply the Christian notion of patient suffering to his or her predicament. “Patience,” as a Christian virtue, is difficult to represent dramatically in the context of secular, commercial drama. However, despite this difficulty, we encounter many moments in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama where there is an attempt to apply various theological conceptualisations of Christian patience and their attendant devotional experiences to dramatic form. As this essay will argue, with Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear in mind, the difficulty in applying the virtue of patience to dramatic passivity serves in these plays to generate ethical dramatic moments which complicate such dramatic devices as delay, duration, deflection, and mirroring. Moreover, such moments can be further clarified with reference to Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and the emergence of revenge drama and its ethics of patient revenge on the commercial Elizabethan stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-408
Number of pages16
JournalEtudes Anglaises
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


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