The Spanish Tragedy | Study Guide

Thomas Kyd

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The Spanish Tragedy | Act 2, Scene 6 | Summary



At an undetermined location, the Ghost of Andrea and Revenge bracket the events revealed in Act 2. The Ghost of Andrea asks Revenge if the whole point of this display is only to increase his suffering; that his beloved Bel-Imperia is so abused and his best friend is murdered. Revenge mildly answers that it isn't a good idea to cut the corn while it is still green, and that in the appropriate fullness of time, Balthazar will reap his just deserts.


The "corn" referred to by Revenge is probably not corn from the New World, but rather barleycorn. The English folk harvest song John Barleycorn describes how the grain is first buried in the ground, then rises and ripens before being cut by the scythe of the harvester and beaten to ferment into beer, which in turn "lays low" the man who gets drunk on it. The allegory of death and resurrection connects with biblical references to Christ. The earliest recorded version of the song was published in 1568, but it is certain the song was known and part of English culture long before then.

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