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The Spanish Tragedy And Macbeth Essay

1359 words - 5 pages

All great tragedies involve to varying degrees the psychological downfall of the protagonist. To explicate this point it is a simple matter to draw upon two tragedies that have remained famous through the ages. They are ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ by Thomas Kyd and the filmic adaption of Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Macbeth’ by Roman Pollanski. They demonstrate the point through literary techniques like foreshadowing, soliloquies etc. and through in the case of Macbeth through the additional visual techniques that enhance the realism of the psychological emancipation demonstrate that although all great tragedies are in part tragedies of the mind and that the tragedy of the mind is vital for another tragedy to occur for as Jacques Barzun famously said “Only a great mind that is overthrown yields tragedy.” However there are other forces, actions etc. that influence what is viewed as the tragedy.
Through the expert use of soliloquies by both Thomas Kyd and William Shakespeare reveal the madness in the minds of their respective protagonists Hieronimo and Macbeth and how it is their psychological downfall that eventually brings the physical tragedy to fruition. Hieronimo and Isabella both become mad with grief after their son Horatio is murdered. Through the soliloquies he gives we see Hieronimo’s grief manifests itself in an active, rampant manner whilst Isabella’s is in a passive, oppressed way. Hieronimo's madness propels and yet delays the tragedy. His paroxysms manifest in soliloquies, and his strange visions build tension, at the same time effectively pushing back the final act of revenge. “This way or that way? Soft and fair, not so: For if I hang myself, let's know, who will revenge Horatio's murder then?” This question is the central dilemma of this revenge tragedy; whether it is better to brave what fate can throw at you and remain passive and inactive, or to 'take arms' against them and to actively end them. It is the process of finding the answer to this question that drives our malcontent mad, then to becoming an avenger and creating what many see as the tragedy in Kyd’s work. Hieronimo’s ‘sickness’ serves both as a psychological effect and as a dramatic device. The desire to achieve the revenge/justice, which are often used synonymously by Hieronimo for the death of his son he stages his play in the final act to dispose of Lorenzo and Balthazar to receive what his justice. Kyd does sow the seeds of Hieronimo's conversion in the first Act, when Hieronimo presents a masque to entertain the court. If we think of Hieronimo as an author of stories related to the downfall of Spanish and Portuguese princes (the subject of the masque), instead of a deceiver, then we see that Kyd has foreshadowed Hieronimo's later transformation. And we may see Hieronimo's revenge less as a violent, evil act than as a creative way to find justice in an unjust society.
In the case of Polanski’s Macbeth the effect of the soliloquies in displaying Macbeth’s madness are as...

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