The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur, was written using symbolism and imagery, which comes from the protagonist (The revenger) Vindice. A main trait of a tragedy is that there will be a downfall of a character within the play, in this case from the opening scene the protagonist, Vindice, is the clear culprit for an emotional meltdown and a tragedy all of his own.
These themes of symbolism and imagery in The Revenger’s tragedy are a connection between what is right and wrong. In the first character whom is introduced into the play and is of a high social background, we know this because throughout the soliloquy Vindice speaks using Iambic pentameter (blank verse) however when the character Vindice is in disguise he speaks in prose this shows to the audience that he is not himself. The first sign of symbolism in the play is in the first soliloquy, ‘[holding a skull; he watches as]...’ this skull is a symbol of the loss of his lover Gloriana. Also an example symbolic language from Vindice when using black verse is the reference to the skull, because the skull is seen as an empty ‘shell of death’ and a picture of Gloriana, it also acts as a ornament for the audience to see while he reconstructs her ‘fill’d out’ its hollow bareness of her face and the dazzling eyes that once decorated its ‘unsightly rings’.
The skull of Gloriana could also symbolise the fate of Vindice, the skull acts as a constant reminder of death and it seems to be following him round where ever he goes. There is an inevitable link between the death of his ‘betrothed lady’ and the revenge he seeks upon the royal family. He is trying to set a balance by taking one life because the life of Gloriana was taken, but trying to fix a balance creates Vindice’s inevitable fate.
Vindice’s double personalities are shown through the change of vocabulary brings with it many traits of tragedies. Firstly the use of masks in the play is an important factor, this is because it hides whom he really is and it is also in keeping with the time period. The mask also gives the audience a visual change to notice the difference between the two separate characters that Vindice really is.
From the first soliloquy we know that the family of a high rank are not as they should be and all act in very immoral ways, for example ‘duke, royal lecher; go, grey-haired adultery;’ this suggests that the duke passes out information to the people of what he wants them to do and how to behave however in his old age he has done wrong to his people. Spurio the son of the Duke was conceived outside of marriage, ‘and thou the bastard, true-begot in evil’, and therefore he is not the Duchess’s son, and the Duke’s son by marriage Lussurioso is known to be as evil as his farther ‘as impious steeped as he’. And finally the ‘Duchess that will do with the devil’ she is having affairs behind the dukes back and will continue to do so willingly. This extract shows the family for whom they are ‘four excellent characters!’...