Brennan, Elizabeth Mary (1958)
The concept of revenge for honour in English fiction and drama between 1580 and 1640.
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From the production of Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy in the late 1580s until the closing of the theatres in 1642 English tragedy was almost exclusively concerned with revenge. By the close of the sixteenth century, however, the influence of the tragedy of blood revenge for murder was almost exhausted. What revitalized revenge tragedy was the replacement of the theme of revenge for murder with that of revenge for honour. The first aim of this study is to consider the development of the concept of revenge for honour in drama and to see whether any corresponding development took place in prose fiction. From an examination of revenge tragedies of the period 1580 - 1605 a basic code of honour for drama is formulated. Thereafter it is demonstrated how important this code and its developments were in the work of the major Jacobean and Caroline dramatists: Tourneur, Webster, Chapman, Marston, Middleton, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger and Ford, An examination of the prose fiction published between 1580 and 1640, and in particular the work of Lyly, Sidney, Greene, Lodge, Nashe, Deloney, Riche, Emmanual Forde and Richard Johnson, reveals that revenge for honour had by no means as great a significance for the prose writer as it had for the dramatist. Some reasons for this are suggested. The contrast between drama and fiction in this respect gives an indication of the difference between the creative imaginations of prose writers and dramatists in the period. In three appendices are tabulated: the applications of the word 'honour' in English drama, 1591-1640; the causes of dishonour in drama and fiction, 1580 - 1640; and the husband's revenge for adultery in English drama, 1603 - 1640.
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in Royal Holloway Research Online.Last modified on 01-Feb-2017
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Institution: University of London, Royal Holloway College (United Kingdom).