The Spanish Tragedy | Study Guide

Thomas Kyd

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The Spanish Tragedy | Act 3, Scene 10 | Summary



Lorenzo, Balthazar, and the page are in Lorenzo's home. Lorenzo wants to make absolutely certain that Pedringano is dead, and the page swears it is so. Summoning Christophil, Lorenzo gives him a ring and tells him to bring Bel-Imperia to him. Lorenzo and Balthazar briefly confer on how exactly to handle her, since they are pretty sure she knows they murdered Horatio; Lorenzo hopes that the nine days that have passed since the murder will have given her time to soften up. When she enters escorted by Christophil, Bel-Imperia meekly asks her brother why she has been locked up. He answers that, on the night in question, the king and the duke had come to consult with Hieronimo on matters raised by the viceroy and he locked her up out of sight because he didn't want her uncle and father to find her in the garden with Horatio. After all, he reminds her, it wasn't all that long ago her father found out she was romancing Andrea and had her punished for it. Acting out the role of the protective brother, Lorenzo tells Bel-Imperia he thought it best to get her quickly out of sight to save her from dishonor.

With equal artifice, Bel-Imperia pretends to accept this and thanks them for their care of her. To her question as to why she was kept in solitude for nine days, he answers that she was looking pretty bad grieving for Andrea, and that he thought it would make her father even more angry to see her in that melancholy state. Quickly changing the subject, Lorenzo calls her attention to the unrequited love of Balthazar, who attempts once more to woo her with poetic phrases. Unmoved, Bel-Imperia leaves her brother's company. Playing the part of the lovesick and rejected lover to the hilt, Balthazar follows Lorenzo out as well.


It may seem strange that Lorenzo is so concerned about being sure Pedringano has been hanged until dead; however, there were several documented cases in which a hanging did not guarantee death. To make sure of it, one method was often backed up by another; especially hanging. In one instance recounted in the stories of Balzac, an old maid rescues and brings back to life a young man presumed hanged; at the pleas of the old maid, his life was spared on condition that he marry her. The playacting that goes on between Balthazar, Lorenzo, and Bel-Imperia foreshadows the playacting they will do near the end of the play whereby all three will end up dead.

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