Tag Archives: English drama

Revenge Tragedy

One of the options in NSW English Extension 1 for the HSC is Revenge Tragedy; you will see an outline of the course there. From Euripides to High Noon is quite a jump, isn’t it, but I am glad to see that students have the chance to look at all those texts listed.

Revenge tragedy usually concerns an individual faced with the duty of revenge in a society where the law is unreliable and within the control of the powerful and protected.

In this elective students are required to study at least three of the prescribed texts as well as other texts of their own choosing. In their responding and composing they explore, analyse, experiment with and critically evaluate their prescribed texts and a range of other examples of this genre, which may include texts that extend or challenge the traditional conventions of revenge tragedy. Texts should be drawn from a range of contexts and media.

Given you can look up Wikipedia or for yourselves, and should for “Revenge Tragedy” and for each text, here are a few other suggestions.


The Literary Encyclopedia allows non-subscribers the first few paragraphs only, but it is still worth reading it.
The BBC’s Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek account of tragedy, but there are some quotes there that could be good essay or discussion starters.
Is there such a genre? — Michael Bywater asks that subversive question, so look at his notes there. [July 2007: This site is being rebuilt. I will check later on to see if this excellent resource is restored.]
Rewriting Revenge by Gordon Carver reviews a production of Cyril Tourner’s The Revenger’s Tragedy.

The whoops and hollers of the dancers, the flashes of muscled legs, bare torsos, bare buttocks, and gold lamé thongs introduced the animalistic, highly exhibitionist, more-than-a-little homoerotic theatrical environment.

Sounds like a fun production!
Murder Will Out: Animated Tongues, Middling Values, and Elizabethan Urban Legend by Doré Ripley is a somewhat Marxist and historicist reading of the genre, focusing especially on Hamlet, The Spanish Tragedy, and Titus Andronicus. Worth a look.
Richard Keys, Curator Emeritus at Screensound Australia, has an interesting page on High Noon: “The year 2002 was the silver anniversary of the release of 1952’s High Noon. In this essay I will try to do justice to what is in my opinion one of the greatest American films.”
Theatre of Blood by Gary Kamiya is controversial and political, but it does indicate something of the place of revenge tragedy in our cultural heritage. You may or may not agree with him, but will find him interesting. Bush wanted his Iraq war to be a lofty Shakespearean history. He got a vicious, corpse-strewn revenge tragedy.

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Posted by on February 15, 2007 in English studies, HSC, literature genres, Media/Film studies, student help


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