The Spanish Tragedy
Little is known about the life of Thomas Kyd (1558-1594), but we do know that in the early 1580s he was associated with a London theatre company. By 1594 he had completed one of the most famous plays of the 16th century: "The Spanish Tragedy." At that time, the majority of English drama was stiff, and Kyd's new use of blank verse to present emotions on stage was revolutionary. He took foundations of Roman tragedy—a ghost, revenge and violence—and created a spectacular melodrama that greatly appealed to English audiences. The play's Hieronimo remains one of the most popular tragic characters on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stages, and served as a model for later tragic characters like Shakespeare's Hamlet. Full of allegorical characters and ghosts, onstage murder, suicide, play-within-the-play, real and feigned insanity and a bloody ending, "The Spanish Tragedy" established the popular revenge play and introduced audiences to the excitement of psychological realism.
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