The Revenger's Tragedy

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The Revenger's Tragedy is an English language Jacobean revenge tragedy, formerly attributed to Cyril Tourneur but now generally recognized as the work of Thomas Middleton. It was performed in 1606, and published in 1607 by George Eld.


Act I[edit]

  • Vindice: Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;
    And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;
    And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;
    And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:
    Four ex'lent characters.
    • Act I, scene i
  • Hippolito: Last evening predecessor unto this,
    The duke's son warily enquir'd for me,
    Whose pleasure I attended: he began
    By policy to open and unhusk me
    About the time and common rumour;
    But I had so much wit to keep my thoughts
    Up in their built houses, yet afforded him
    An idle satisfaction without danger.
    But the 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, either disgrac'd
    In former times, or by new grooms displac'd
    Since his stepmother's nuptials, such a blood
    A man that were for evil only good;
    To give you the true word, some base-coin'd pander.
    • Act I, scene i
  • Vindici: We must coin.
    Women are apt, you know, to take false money,
    But I dare stake my soul for these two creatures,
    Only excuse excepted that they'll swallow
    Because their sex is easy in belief.
    • Act I, scene i
  • Ambitioso: Brother, this makes for thee;
    Fear not, we'll have a trick to set thee free.
    Junior: Brother, I will expect it from you both,
    And in that hope I rest.
    • Act I, scene ii

Act II[edit]

  • Vindice: What think you now, lady?
    Speak, are you wiser?
    What said advancement to you?
    Thus it said:
    The daughter's fall lifts up the mother's head.
    Did it not, madam? But I'll swear it does
    In many places; tut, this age fears no man:
    "'Tis no shame to be bad, because 'tis common."
    • Act II, scene i
  • Lussurioso: I much applaud thy judgment; thou art well-read in a fellow,
    And 'tis the deepest art to study man.
    I know this, which I never learnt in schools:
    The world's divided into knaves and fools.
    • Act II, scene ii
  • Duke: It well becomes that judge to nod at crimes
    That does commit greater himself and lives.
    I may forgive a disobedient error
    That expect pardon for adultery,
    And in my old days am a youth in lust:
    Many a beauty have I turn'd to poison
    In the denial, covetous of all.
    Age hot is like a monster to be seen:
    My hairs are white, and yet my sins are green.
    • Act I, scene iii

Act III[edit]

  • Supervacuo: Brother, let my opinion sway you once,
    I speak it for the best, to have him die
    Surest and soonest; if the signet come
    Unto the judges' hands, why, then his doom
    Will be deferr'd till sittings and court-days,
    Juries and further.
    Faiths are bought and sold;
    Oaths in these days are but the skin of gold.
    • Act III, scene i
  • [Spurio and the Duchess kiss]
    Spurio: Had not that kiss a taste of sin, 'twere sweet.
    Duchess: Why, there's no pleasure sweet but it is sinful.
    Spurio: True, such a bitter sweetness fate hath given;
    Best side to us is the worst side to heaven.
    Duchess: Push, come: 'tis the old duke thy doubtful father;
    The thought of him rubs heaven in thy way,
    But I protest by yonder waxen fire,
    Forget him or I'll poison him.
    Spurio: Madam, you urge a thought which ne'er had life.
    So deadly do I loathe him for my birth,
    That if he took me hasp'd within his bed,
    I would add murther to adultery,
    And with my sword give up his years to death.
    • Act III, scene v
  • Vindici: Here might a scornful and ambitious woman
    Look through and through herself; see, ladies, with false forms
    You deceive men but cannot deceive worms.
    • Act III, scene v

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