The Price That Women in Renaissance Drama Pay for Taking Initiative
Isabella’s Soliloquy in Act IV of The Spanish Tragedy
Keywords:Renaissance drama, Senecan tragedy, Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy, patriarchy, soliloquy, suicide
The article is a close reading of Isabella’s soliloquy in act IV of The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd. Pointing at the difference between the role of women in Early Modern reality and their function in contemporary plays, it demonstrates the perversity of a society where women were regularly marginalized and where, even in theatre, their transgressions of the boundaries imposed on them by the patriarchal social apparatus led to extremely unfavourable repercussions. Isabella, emotionally crushed by the foul murder of her son, decides in her helplessness to take her own life. In a world dominated by men, she does not quietly accept her passive role, but works within its limitations to become a character that takes action, albeit action that ends her life. Before making the symbolic gesture of stabbing herself, she exclaims against the circumstances which drove her to it. Her speech can be seen as one of the climactic points of the play.
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