The Spanish Tragedy | Study Guide

Thomas Kyd

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The Spanish Tragedy | Act 2, Scene 5 | Summary



Hieronimo enters his garden with a sword and torch, looking for the person who cried out his name and roused him from his bed. He discovers the body of a man hanging from a fruit tree; at first he thinks the murderers intend that he shall be blamed. He cuts the body down and recognizes his son. Horrified, Hieronimo launches into loud and extended laments, which summon his wife Isabella to his side. The parents grieve together.

Addition 1 is inserted after line 45. In it, neither Isabella nor Hieronimo recognize their son, and wonder how some odd man here murdered got their son's clothing. Not yet realizing the dead man is Horatio, Hieronimo sends Jacques to Lorenzo's house, where Horatio must be late partying. Then he asks the servant Pedro if he recognizes the hanged man, to which the servant quickly responds that it is Horatio. Hearing this, Hieronimo laughs and says that he too was at first deceived, because the dead man is certainly wearing Horatio's clothes. Wavering between truth and illusion (dream), Isabella is the first one to recognize their son. Finally, Hieronimo looks again at the man's face in torchlight and cannot deny that this is no strange man, but his own son. He takes the bloodied scarf from Horatio's body, swearing he will not give it up until his death has been avenged. Hieronimo is about to fall on his own sword, while asking for poison that will give him quick release from his pain. However, he eventually throws the sword aside and puts off death so that he can avenge the murder before helping to bear the body back into the house.


The laments in this scene, specifically those in Latin with which Hieronimo concludes the scene, are evidently a collection of classical "tags" and snippets of the playwright's own poetic compositions to fit Hieronimo and Isabella's extreme state of mind. Calling for a quick-acting poison while at the same time making as if to fall upon his own sword shows that at least two means of killing had to be employed to ensure success. So, just as in the previous scene the murderers not only hang Horatio but stab him repeatedly to guarantee he dies, here Hieronimo asks for poison in case his sword doesn't do the job. This also occurs in Hamlet (Act 5, Scene 2) in which the dying prince leaps up to the throne with the poisoned sword to kill his uncle and then, to make sure he dies, also pours the poisoned wine down his throat.

Isabella reiterates the slow but irrevocable movement of justice in terms similar to those Revenge has made to the Ghost of Andrea: "Time is the author both of truth and right, And time will bring this treachery to light." Biblical opposites of light and dark will continue to both obscure and reveal the remaining events of the play.

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