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Essay on Corruption in the Revengers Tragedy and Hamlet

In: English and Literature

Submitted By zsonoiki
Words 1932
Pages 8
Orezina Sonoiki With “Revenger’s Tragedy” being set in Italy, it is almost inevitable that the book will not revolve partly around corruption amongst many other themes.
Middleton starts this play on a strong note as corruption starts to flow right from the beginning of the text. Vindice a character filled with anger and bitterness opens the play holding the skull of his fiancée who the Duke poisoned upon her refusal to sleep with him. His hatred of the Duke is shown as he describes him saying: “Duke, royal lecher; go, grey-haired adultery.” Vindice talks about lustfulness, which is a form of corruption. His anger and harsh tone towards the Duke is expected as he feels hurt and he even goes as far as to call the Duke myself, adultery. Vindice is also angry about the discrimination his father faced before his death. Middleton uses his character as an immediate way to reflect the unjust treatment during that period and how corruption was almost seen as the norm. It equally shows how power drunk kings got. Lustfulness is a form of corruption present in the play. The first time we come across lust is when Vindice pours out his feelings towards the Duke. He first of all refers to the Duke as committing adultery as quoted earlier on. He also refers to Spurio, the illegimate son of the Duke as “thou his bastard,” which identifies him as being born of wedlock. This reflects the Duke’s lustfulness even further. Hippolito is another character who draws attention to the acceptance of lustfulness as Lussurioso sends him to look for a pander. Hippolito accepts to carry out the future Duke’s wishes as he says to Vindice “but this whole aim and scope of his intent, ended in this, conjuring me in private to seek some strange-digested fellow forth of ill-contented nature.” The fact that Lussurioso met Hippolito in private is because he knows the risks that are to follow if people were to find out about his doings. Middleton has made corruption in this book very cooperative as most people who have the intent of doing bad things always make others do the background work for them. This can be supported by how Lussurioso asks Hippolito to find a pander and he calls on his brother, Vindice to carry out the job of a pimp in disguise. This brings me to my next theme. Disguise is shown first of all when Vindice pretends to be a pander. Although disguise may be a form of deceit, it is necessary at times as it may have a strong purpose. Vindice uses disguise as a means of getting close to the royal family and building up his road to revenge against the Duke. He says: “I’ll be that strange-composed fellow.” Middleton has created a strong character in Vindice and one who is able to have dual-personalities in order to seek the best kind of revenge. However, this form of corruption is one that is not so long lasting when revelations start to occur. The Revenger’s Tragedy is a book, which values physical beauty as men shower their praises and/or lustfulness on the female body. However, it is no doubt that inequality in gender reigns through out this book and that is no surprise as the men were seen as the superior gender then. The book portrays women badly and the only woman who is not portrayed to be a sexual figure is Castiza as she is sexually pure. A very important thing Castiza says about sexual purity is: “ A virgin honour is a crystal tower.” It is great that she has pride in her chastity. Vindice sees women as being easily swayed by money when he says: “Women are apt you know, to take false money.” Women are made worthless by a vast array of the men in this play and men such as Lussurioso and Junior Brother are under the belief that women do not need their sexual purity. Lussurioso in particular believes that with riches, he can get hold of any woman and Vindice brings him to that conclusion. Vindice also describes the female gender as being “easy in belief,” and he can’t take the total blame for that as women such as Gratiana, reflect the weakness of a woman by being easily persuaded into doing unjust things. An example of a weakness shown is when Gratiana says: “O heavens! This overcomes me.” She says this after Vindice’s long speech and basically agrees to sell her daughter’s virginity for rewards such as money and gold. Thomas Middleton here creates a general perception of women here but it is based on a few mistakes some have made. The disrespect to the female gender is further expressed by Junior brother, who rapes Antonio’s wife. It is very alarming that he has damaged the reputation of a well-respected woman and is still trying to justify his actions because of how society has accepted corruption. Junior brother puts on a very carefree attitude as when he is asked why he raped the wife on Antonio in the court, he replied saying: “Why flesh and blood, my lord; What should move men unto a woman else?” This lays further emphasis on how this book praises the body of women yet deems them so lowly in self-righteousness. Corruption and injustice is widespread in the court as Ambitioso says to Junior Brother: “Fear not, we’ll have a trick to set thee free.” This makes me wonder if there is no escape from corruption in the play. Everybody seems to play a part and one would expect that everybody would make Junior Brother pay for his crimes. The Duchess is put off by the fact that her son shows no remorse when she says: “No pity yet? Must I rise fruitless then.” This shows her pride as a woman and she is trying to imply that she cannot let him put the family to shame. She is furious that the Duke is doing nothing to help. She expressed her anger by listing a bunch of corrupt thing other women will do to their husbands if they were in her shoes: “Some will plot his death with easy doctors.” This shows how a lot of evil thoughts run through the minds of the characters and for the fact that thoughts can be controlled; some characters tend to plot in a silly manner. In this particular scene, the Duke stands out as not being the main focus of corruption here because he ignores his wife’s wishes by telling her “More serious business calls upon our hours.” The Duchess’s reply introduces the theme of revenge. She says: “I’ll kill him in his forehead, hate there feed.” The Duchess threatens to cheat on her husband with her stepson as a means of revenge. Revenge is closely linked with some of the adultery going on in this play and that is something I find interesting that Middleton has done. He has made it identified that somehow, all forms of corruption link and it flows through the characters like the Dominoes theory. This is why I chose to reintroduce lustfulness and adultery and link it to revenge. The Duchess claims her way of getting even with the Duke is by making a cuckold of him. She chooses to do this by sleeping with Spurio, who is the illegitimate son of the Duke. Not only is this incestuous, but it is also suspicious as it brings hints that the Duchess may always have lusted over Spurio but has been waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Now that her husband has annoyed her, she feels it is the appropriate time. “I think you’d fear to kiss my hand too, if my lip stood there?” says the Duchess in a very flirtatious manner. She tries to engage in lustful conversations with Spurio to persuade him into bed with her and she does quite a good job. Middleton has created something special in Spurio that I can’t identify so much in the other characters. He has a wise instinct in him. When the Duchess approaches him in a lustful manner, he tells her in a respectful manner: “You are my father’s wife; your grace may guess now what I could call it.” He knows it is incestuous and he tells her. Even though he succumbs to it at the end, I think initial reactions and impressions are always reckoned with before anything else. Corruption may come in the form of persuasion and anger. The Duchess told Spurio things she know would upset him such as: “For had he cut thee a right diamond, thou hadst been next set in the dukedom’s ring.” Spurio will be building up hatred towards his father, as he is the less favoured son due to his illegitimacy and it can be said that he agreed to her wishes because of the anger he felt then. “No, mad and think upon’t.” He expresses his anger. Spurio eventually agrees to the Duchesses wants as he says: “Madam, I blush to say what I will do.” I however believe that anger could not be the solemn reason. They seem to both have the intent of committing the corrupt act of incest. The thirst for power is another form of corruption and this is what causes complications between Spurio and Lussurioso. As Spurio is the illegitimate son, he is not the heir to his fathers throne and this causes a rift between the two. They are so focused on trying to drag each other down. Lussurioso is trying to catch Spurio with the Duchess to ruin his chances of ever becoming the Duke, while Spurio is trying to catch Lussurioso with Castiza and shame him. As the two are so busy trying to find each other, a miscommunication occurs and Lussurioso ends up walking in on the Duke and Duchess. His father’s belief is that he is trying to kill him and the Duke orders him to be arrested by the guards. “Bear him hence!” This is to show that sometimes, wanting to be in control can lead to the worst outcomes. It also shows how revenge may be carried out on the wrong person. Spurio’s craving for power is shown as he says: “Good, I’faith; then ‘tis not much amiss.” He is happy that he can become the heir now that his father has held his brother to hostage. Power as a general term in this play can be shown as all characters tend to try and dominate one another and in the case of Junior brother, to name a few, it is through rape. So far, the only character I have come across who isn’t moved by power is Castiza and this is part of why she is least corrupt. In one scene where her mother tries to convince her to lose her chastity she says: “Pray did you see my mother?” This shows her disbelief in the way her mother can be easily swayed by money because money brings about power. So far, these are the things I have come across in the play. A very important remark that Castiza made summarizes corruption in the play. “The world’s so changed.” Castiza sees that the world lacks any morals and everything is so corrupt. I support that statement strongly as most characters seem to be very malicious and have found too much obsession in the wrong things thereby making them seem normal. Corruption has become a way of life within the play.

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