Response: The Spanish Tragedy

The five additions to Thomas Kyd's popular play The Spanish Tragedy change the shape and focus of the original work by emphasizing Hieronimo's feelings toward his son, Horatio. These additions highlight the Hieronimo's grief for Horatio and his ensuing madness, and, if placed in the play, would serve to stress this element of the plot as well as Hieronimo's role in the story, thus de-emphasizing other characters and plot elements. The emphasis on Hieronimo and how he was growing "lunatic and childish for his son" (129) would centralize this aspect of the story and serve to explain Hieronimo's actions.

The additions all stress Hieronimo's grief for his son and would strengthen that particular storyline. Unlike the play, in which the 'blindness of heaven' is also a major source of anguish, the additions deal almost exclusively with Hieronimo's distress at the loss of Horatio. He meditates at length on this loss, wondering "what is there yet in a son/ To make a father dote, rave or run mad?" (127). In addition, Hieronimo's state of madness is emphasized more than in the play. The creation of the characters of Jaques and Pedro allow the author to comment on Hieronimo's state from the outside. Also, Hieronimo's comments to the painter allow the author to describe this madness in a visual way. When he asks the painter to "Draw me like old Priam of Troy . . . make me curse, make me rave, make me cry, make me mad" (134), Hieronimo creates a vivid description of his own madness. The author's emphasis on these elements changes the motivations behind Hieronimo's actions, changing the meaning of the play itself.

The additions also focus the play more firmly on the character of Hieronimo, giving Hieronimo even more importance to the story and de-emphasizing other characters and subplots. The text in the additions most likely replaced sections of the original that were considered outdated (xxxiii). To me, it seems likely that the sections that dealt with political concerns were not as relevant to later audiences as they were when the play was originally performed, and they could have been eliminated in favor of the Hieronimo scenes. The large-scale tragedy could have been de-emphasized in favor of the smaller-scale one.

The changes to The Spanish Tragedy change the character of the play. Hieronimo's grief and madness become more central themes than in the original, and both the character of Hieronimo and the play itself are changed because of this emphasis. This stress completely transforms how audiences could understand the play and its themes.

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