Spanish Tragedy

by: Thomas Kyd

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing help Suggested Essay Topics

Kyd uses several soliloquies to develop Hieronimo's character. How does Kyd use rhetoric and imagery to develop Hieronimo as a character? Is there a change in this rhetoric over the course of the soliloquies, and if so how does this affect Hieronimo's characterization?

Explore the image of Hieronimo as artist and author throughout the play. Can Hieronimo's struggle for revenge be described as an artistic struggle? Can this be reconciled with his official function as a judge? If Hieronimo is an author, should we look for authorial commentary in his speeches (ie. the author's own thoughts being expressed through Hieronimo)?

In the play, there are frequent recurrences of judges: the three judges in the underworld, Hieronimo, and at the end Andrea assumes the role of judge over the dead. What role do these judges serve in the plot? How is the idea of the judiciary treated through these characters, and how is it related to the theme of justice and revenge? How should this affect our interpretation of Andrea's "last judgment" in scene IV.v?

Discuss Kyd's use of contrast and antithesis in the play. Pick two characters and show how Kyd uses contrast for the purposes of characterization.

Compare and contrast the madness of Hieronimo and of Izabella. How does their insanity manifest itself in their language? How does gender affect the way in which the two madnesses are portrayed?

Letters and books play an important role in the plot: Bel-Imperia's letter to Hieronimo, Pedringano's letter to Lorenzo, Hieronimo's book containing his play, even Pedringano's nonexistent pardon. What is the significance of these letters for the characters? Are they generally reliable sources of information? What might they symbolize, if anything?