Antonio's Revenge: The Second Part of Antonio and Mellida

Antonio's Revenge: The Second Part of Antonio and Mellida

Antonio's Revenge: The Second Part of Antonio and Mellida

Antonio's Revenge: The Second Part of Antonio and Mellida

Excerpt

There is no evidence that the two parts of Antonio and Mellida (Antonio and Mellida, already published in this series, and Antonio's Revenge, here presented) were designed as a continuous, ten-act, dramatic structure. We may assume from the "Epilogus" to Part I and from the theatrical practice of the time (witnessed in Henslowe's Diary) that the two parts were never performed at a single sitting. The Paul's plays seem to have run from around four till six P.M. (when the Cathedral precinct was closed) and this would give time for only one play in an afternoon. The conclusion to Part I is certainly unexpected, but not more so than other events in that play, and there is no reason to suppose that the final lines:

Here end the comic crosses of true love:
O may the passage most successful prove!

provide anything other than an appropriate ending to a complete work. With our knowledge of Part II we can, of course, see the ironic second level of meaning here: the comic crosses of true love have ended; the next crosses will be tragic. When we next meet Piero, at the beginning of Part II, "his arms bare, smear'd in blood, a poniard in one hand, bloody, and a torch in the other," we recognize a Piero we have met already, at the beginning of Part I, and this may make the comic conclusion to that play seem merely interpolated; but the return of this earlier vision of tyranny, superimposed on the benevolent despotism we are shown at the end of Part I, is only the kind of change that is typical of Marston's method of building his drama out of contradictory, ironically organized, statements (see my Introduction to Part I). The Prologue to Part II makes this mode of relationship explicit: it faces that to Part I as does the mask of tragedy to that of comedy. The two pieces are obviously designed along parallel lines: the first begins by invoking Spring and Summer ("The wreath of pleasure and delicious sweets"), and the second makes its opening point out of the withering of these "sweets" [flowers] in winter . . .

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