Apocalypse & Armada in Kyd's Spanish Tragedy

Apocalypse & Armada in Kyd's Spanish Tragedy

Apocalypse & Armada in Kyd's Spanish Tragedy

Apocalypse & Armada in Kyd's Spanish Tragedy

Synopsis

Often English commentators of the late sixteenth century viewed the Spanish Armada as a revenge tragedy in which God, through England, exacted vengeance on Babylon-Spain. Kyd, the famous playwright, created a nationalistic revenge tragedy in which the hero, Hieronimo, serves as the divinely appointed avenger whose marriage playlet destroys Babylon-Spain. Thus Kyd's play becomes a Reformation play of Daniel, full of apocalyptic symbolism showing the final triumph of Elizabeth as Astrea.

Excerpt

The spanish tragedy parallels the Book of Daniel in Kyd's use of mystery to refer to symbolic representations with hidden political and eschatological meanings; in his employment of the three connected rhetorical and thematic motifs of prophetic revelation, lawsuit or judgment, and redemption, which are characteristic of apocalyptic literature; in the names and roles of Hieronimo and Balthazar, who are counterparts to the biblical Daniel and King Belshazzar; and, finally, in the presentation of two scenes, 4.2. and 4.4., which are analogous, respectively, to Daniel 4 and S. the parallels between the play and the Book of Daniel as the presenters of mysteries begin in the induction scene when Andrea describes his underworld journey during which he experiences the operation of the justice system that will pass judgment on the characters at the end of the play. For some as yet undetermined reason, Andrea has been allowed to return from the otherworld to reveal to us the nature of underworld justice and to witness an earthly play, called a mystery and a tragedy, in which his slayer will be slain. Revenge, the chthonic emissary from Proserpine's court, serves as the embodiment of the destiny which will be fulfilled onstage. He tells Andrea and us what will take place, and when Andrea becomes impatient with the slowness of revenge, Revenge produces the symbolic Hymen dumb show which assures Andrea that Balthazar will be defeated.

In his role as the presenter of mysteries, Revenge parallels the biblical Wisdom figure who reveals secret truths to chosen prophets. the transmission of secret knowledge from a Wisdom figure to a seer and then to the seer's audience is common to historical apocalypses like Daniel and Revelation and to a number of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical other-

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