Answer TWO of the following:
Q1: Despite all the parody and gore, a revenge tragedy also serves as a wake-up call to its audiences, many of whom were guilty of the same sins portrayed on-stage. One way the play does this is through the common Renaissance conceit of the memento mori (see Hackett in Chapter 6). Discuss a scene that seems to employ this literary device: how might it affect the audience, given the context of the scene itself?
Q2: Hackett talks throughout Chapter 6 of the “aesthetics of death,” which basically means how death becomes an art form in revenge tragedies. Whether or not death is ever “beautiful,” it can still be used for artistic effect—creating what Hackett calls “death by art.” What kind of artful deaths appear in these acts, and what makes them satisfying, aesthetically pleasing, or luridly grotesque?
Q3: Reflecting upon Lussurioso’s villany, Vindice exclaims, “O thou almighty Patience! ‘Tis my wonder/That such a fellow, impudent and wicked,/Should not be cloven as he stood,/Or with a secret wind burst open!/Is there no thunder left, or is’t kept up/In stock for heavier vengeance?” (140). Does Vindice truly seem to believe in this kind of justice, where good is rewarded and evil punished? Or does he—like many other characters in the play—seem to operate in a moral vacuum, where there are no punishments or reward for anything except those you make yourself? Is there any true sense of morality or religion in the play (and if not, is that why people enjoyed it?).
Q4: Like Hamlet, this play constantly subjects women to tests (and threats) of faith and virtue: Castiza is tested by Vindice, Gratiana is tested by Vindice, Gratiana is assaulted by Vindice and Hippolito, and Castiza tests her own mother. Is this part of the game of masks and disguises of the play...or does this suggest a concern of Middleton’s with women’s virtue—or lack thereof? Does Middleton assume that most women are complicit with the corruption and lusts of an evil court (or are even the cause of it)?