The Spanish Tragedy
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  • 1. The Spanish Tragedy Thomas Kyd (c. 1590)
  • 2. 1. wilder, and more hardThis description of the object of Balthazar’sdesires hardly seems complimentary, but refers toBellimperia’s determination to shun him,suggesting a certain passion in her behaviour.The frustration of the rejected lover is what framesthis speech.
  • 3. 2.The list of comparisons adds to the melodrama ofhis speech but is interesting to note the imagesused; the freedom and natural beauty of the firstthree contrast with the fixed and unmoveablestony wall that ends the line. Perhaps Kyd usesthese images to suggest Bellimperia’s beauty andthe passion that cannot be contained.
  • 4. 3. whereforeThe question beginning with wherefore (why)suggests that Balthazar is aware that hisfrustration is beginning to make him bitter.
  • 5. 5.This rather blunt statement could create sympathyfor Balthazar as he realizes that Bellimperia doesnot find him attractive. It is telling, however, thathis first thought is of appearance, not of anyemotional or intellectual bond they may have.What might this suggest?
  • 6. 6. My words are rudeEven though he is a man of status, respected byothers, Balthazar realizes that his conversationhas no charm or subtlety to please Bellimperia.
  • 7. 7. harsh and illThese adjectives are striking, as they are acomplete contrast to the type of words we wouldexpect a suitor to send to his love; instead theysuggest that his anger and frustration are blightinghis ability to express his love. Kyd could perhapsbe using this idea to satirize the courtly loveprocess.
  • 8. 8. Pan and MarsyasPan is a god in Greek mythology who is half-goat, and Marsyas is a satyr, one of hiscompanions; both are noted for their musical skill.This ironic and rather humorous comparisonsuggests that Balthazar’s skills in writing aboutlove are the opposite of elegant and refined.
  • 9. 9.Continuing the extended list of reasons whyBalthazar cannot please, Kyd refers to the finalchance a suitor may have by emphasizing that noteven tokens of his affection in the form of gifts canwin Bellimperia’s heart, because they are notcostly enough.
  • 10. 10. worthlessThis suggests that Balthazar considers himself tobe a failure, consolidated by the reference to thefact that his labour’s lost. Kyd again plays withthe audience’s relationship with Balthazar; do wefeel sympathy for him because he seemsdefeated?
  • 11. 11-20Kyd uses a repetitive structure for the second partof Balthazar’s speech. The lines are a series ofcouplets with the first line of each starting withYet, posing a possible way in which Bellimperiamay fall in love with him; the second line in eachpair, beginning with Ay, but, shows his lament ashe recognizes another reason why she will not behis. Each couplet echoes Balthazar’s desperationbut also illustrates the things he considers to bethe most important characteristics for a successfulsuitor, which are all rather impersonal.
  • 12. 11-12This couplet shows Balthazar’s belief that hisbravery should make Bellimperia love him, if itwere not for the fact that, having been captured byHoratio, his current position as prisonerovershadows his success as a soldier.
  • 13. 13-14In line with courtly practice, Balthazar considersthe fact that Bellimperia should agree to be hiswife as it will please her father – then heacknowledges that she can reason well and sopersuade her father he is not the right suitor.
  • 14. 15-16Perhaps a little more desperately, Balthazar hereconsiders his friendship with Bellimperia’s brotherto be a good reason for their match – only torealize she is not interested in pleasing him. Thefact that Kyd makes two refs to family ties asimportant factors in relationships highlights theidea that marriage is not simply about two peoplefalling in love. Also interesting to note here is thefact that Kyd is suggesting Bellimperia’s capacityfor independent thought: she can persuade herfather and reject her brother’s requests, quitecontroversial moves for a woman in a patriarchalsociety.
  • 15. 17-18Balthazar here believes that the status his wifewould enjoy should be a good enough reason tomarry. The response to this particular suggestionis that Bellimperia may want someone of higherstatus. He does not consider the idea that statusmay not be something Bellimperia would see assignificant in choosing a husband.
  • 16. 19-20Concluding this speech with a rather damningview, this couplet juxtaposes Balthazar’s love andfrustration. He believes Bellimperia should lovehim as he is a slave to her beauty and dotes onher, yet his conclusion is that she is not capable oflove.Does it seem a little pathetic that he condemnsher in such a way merely because she does notreturn his love, or is Kyd using this to create somesympathy for him?