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Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature$
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Lesel Dawson and Fiona McHardy

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414098

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414098.001.0001

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‘Nursed in Blood’: Masculinity and Grief in Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge

‘Nursed in Blood’: Masculinity and Grief in Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge

Chapter:
(p.295) Chapter 15 ‘Nursed in Blood’: Masculinity and Grief in Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge
Source:
Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Author(s):

Rebecca Yearling

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414098.003.0016

This chapter examines the relationship between grief, revenge and masculinity in John Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge. Unlike other contemporary revenge dramas, the play ends with Antonio alive and unpunished, which critics have tended to interpret either as evidence of Marston’s lack of artistic skill or as a uniquely positive depiction of revenge as necessary and just. This chapter rejects both interpretations, arguing instead that the jarring ending is characteristic of Marston, who frequently pitches genre conventions against perplexing ethical questions in order to unsettle the spectator’s aesthetic expectations and moral judgements. The play also questions the characters’ fantasy of extreme manliness, and its equation of masculinity with violence and death. Although Antonio moves from ‘tears to blood’, coming to embody a vengeful hyper-masculinity, Antonio’s new version of manliness is monstrous and not far from psychosis.

Keywords:   John Marston, Antonio’s Revenge, grief, masculinity, manliness, revenge, genre

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