An archetypal study of The revenger's tragedy



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Vindice, the protagonist of The Revenger's Tragedy, conforms in characterization to the obsessive-compulsive style of behavior; the one violation of consistency, the revenge, is a phantasy act appropriate to the obsessive-compulsive style. The other characters objectify other phantasies latent in Vindice's acts. The central phantasy, the archetype of the primal scene, is interpreted according to Norman 0. Brown's psychoanalytical philosophy: it serves as both the symbol of sublimation, with which Vindice is allied, and the model for sado-masochism, to which the Vice characters are committed. The action of the play follows the myth of Pentheus: in pursuing his personal myth in his characteristic style, Vindice is absorbed and destroyed by the communal myth he defends against. Affective analysis shows that the spectator turns away from his initial identification with Vindice toward a more independent moral stance, guided by implicit moral patterns in the play.