The Spanish Tragedy | Study Guide

Thomas Kyd

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The Spanish Tragedy | Act 3, Scene 7 | Summary

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Summary

Later that same day at his house, Hieronimo expresses his inability to encompass his sense of unresolved injustice and grief over his son's death. In this lament he summons the forces of nature to fuel his unruly passions. But although they mount heavenward, justice and revenge remained sealed from his pleas by "walls of diamond" so that his words are given no place to be heard. The hangman enters with a letter he found on Pedringano's body, which he says shows that Pedringano was falsely accused and hanged. The hangman begs Hieronimo to stand between him and punishment for his mistake, and Hieronimo agrees, taking the letter. In it Pedringano admits he helped murder Horatio on Lorenzo's orders, along with Balthazar and Serberine—thus confirming the information in Bel-Imperia's letter. Incredulous, Hieronimo asks if death was the ransom due his son for having compassionately spared Balthazar's life, and remarks on how convincing Lorenzo's pretended friendship to Horatio had been. Hieronimo resolves to approach the king with the matter to obtain justice or wear everyone down ("tear at the flesh") with endless threats of vengeance.

Analysis

In this scene various hard, unyielding substances like diamond or stone act as a metaphor. Flint stone was used to spark kindling into fire before people had matches. The stone is very hard and sharp; for Hieronimo to walk on flint with his old and tender feet would cut them deeply—indeed to "tear at the flesh." It is possible that the phrase wearing the flints may refer to penitential practice of wearing shoes with something hard and sharp in them. As Hieronimo will soon find out, the "walls of diamond" that block his pleas to heaven for justice and redress are just as hard when it comes to fair justice and redress on Earth, especially at the hands of the king, whose own nephew is one of the murderers.

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