'Shall we revenge a villainy with villainy?' Een dramaturgische blik op de rechtvaardiging van vergelding in de Elizabethaanse wraaktragedie.
Berlo, M.H.J. van
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Both history and anthropology reckon revenge to be an essential part of the social norms and values or the premodern societies. Yet, the revenge theme is still omnipresent in our contemporary liberal western world. Debates on the subject of revenge and retaliation are therefor still valid and ongoing. Revenge is being considered to be a central preoccupation of European literature, starting with the ancient Greek culture, through the Renaissance and modernism until our present day. The revenge theme offers the author a gamut of human emotions and moral dilemmas, and its natural habitat seems to be the stage: only the revenge theme can create a dramatic situation between two actors without words, backdrop or props. The Elizabethan era in England (ca. 1560-1610) shapes the heyday of the revenge tragedy. This particular genre in theatre history treats the subject of personal revenge upon a corrupt power in many different ways, but also in many structural similarities. This thesis is not a psychological research of the justification of violent revenge, but a dramaturgical investigation of how the Elizabethan playwrights justify to the audience in their plays the retaliation of their protagonist.