From the edition of 1615. Reproduced in Shakespeare's England.

One of the most popular plays of the whole period covered by Shakespeare's career was The Spanish Tragedy, probably by Thomas Kyd*. Kyd startles with spectacular stage devices adopted from Senecan drama:

As is so often the case with writers of the period, little is known of Kyd's life--and indeed the only way we know that his most famous play, The Spanish Tragedy, was by him is from a reference in a contemporary pamphlet. Robert Greene may have intended to include Kyd in his attack on uneducated playwrights.

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Senecan Irony?

More horrors

Fine speeches

O eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears;
O life, no life, but lively form of death;
O world, no world, but mass of public wrongs,
Confused and filled with murder and misdeeds.
O sacred heavens! If this unhallowed deed,
If this inhuman and barbarous attempt,
If this incomparable murder thus
Of mine, but now no more my son,
Shall unrevealed and unrevenged pass,
How should we term your dealings to be just,
If you unjustly deal with those that in your Justice trust*?
(3. 2. 1-11)

The irony of this speech lies in part in the fact that Hieronymo is Marshal of Spain, responsible for the administration of justice in the country, yet he is unable to obtain justice for himself.

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In its bombastic way, the speech is not much different from the turgid rhetoric of the "Pyrrhus" speech in Hamlet (2. 2 459-525).

Footnotes

  1. No-one to trust

    The irony of this speech lies in part in the fact that Hieronymo is Marshal of Spain, responsible for the administration of justice in the country, yet he is unable to obtain justice for himself.

  2. Thomas Kyd (1558-1594)

    As is so often the case with writers of the period, little is known of Kyd's life--and indeed the only way we know that his most famous play, The Spanish Tragedy, was by him is from a reference in a contemporary pamphlet. Robert Greene may have intended to include Kyd in his attack on uneducated playwrights.